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Case Study of H.M. (Henry Molaison) Mind:-

The most studied mind in the History of Mankind is Henry Molaison’s Mind. His case is all about brain surgery and memory loss.

Because of an accident during childhood, H.M. got an internal brain injury. Because of this injury, he was suffering from Epilepsy attacks. His condition became serious day by day with the increasing of his age, even medicines not going to help him during that period. Because of this reason, his doctors got upset. When he reached the age of 20 his condition became worse. During the period of 1940s to 1950s surgeons attempted to treat neurological and psychiatric diseases using a variety of neurosurgical procedures. Neurologists knew that epilepsy seizures originate in the medial portion of temporal lobes and after that it spreads into the different parts of the brain. Because of this reason, various violence seizures occur and even loss of consciousness also happened during this time.

The great neurologist Scoville decided to do the surgery of Henry. At that time neurologists believe that if we take out that part of the brain from where seizures originate it helps in the stoppage of epilepsy. The decision in H.M.’s case was to remove his medial temporal lobe bilaterally, in a procedure called a temporal lobectomy. Scoville had done the surgery of Henry and removed the Hippocampus a part of the brain.

After the surgery problem of epilepsy is reduced. This surgery was very risky and the chances of brain damages are very high. After this successful surgery, it becomes the greatest achievement of the Scoville. But after one year H.M.’s family members and doctors realized that he faced new types of problems. Like he knew all the previous memories before his surgery but forgot the present things which were happened in 10 to 15 minutes. He forgot about everything which he said 15 minutes before to anyone, but he had all the previous memories before surgery.

Psychologist Brenda Milner sent to study the brain of H.M. After the study, his cognitive skills were tested, which shows that the intelligence of H.M. became above average after surgery, he did not have any language problem, neither his personality changes nor his motivation. But the result of his memory test was below average. After removing the hippocampus from the brain his cognitive functions were active but there was some issue in a selective area of memory. Short –term memory of H.M. was normal which includes sensory memory and working memory but he was not able to store this information in his long-term memory.

Neuroscientist Scoville described that the hippocampus was removed from the H.M.’s brain. During the time of high-resolution MRI- Scan of H.M., it was found that with the hippocampus surroundings cortex was also removed from the brain. After this study, the first question occurred in the mind- Is Hippocampus necessary for long term memory? After a survey on other patients, it was found that information transfers from short-term memory to long term memory at that moment, when it is consolidated into Hippocampus. When the Hippocampus of H.M. was removed, his memory was not able to consolidate itself. Therefore the information becomes scattered in his brain and after surgery, he was not able to make his long term memory.

The brain of H.M. is the most studied and valuable in the history of psychology. Because when he was alive so many tests were conducted on him and even after his death also neurologists preserve his brain, scan his brain and make it on digitally level. On this basis, various studies are conducted.

Priyanka Sethia

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