The curious case of H.M.

Recently, I watched a lecture by the renown neuroscientist, Eric Kandel, on Youtube. In his talk he unsurprisingly made mention of the famous patient H.M. in which most of us are familiar with. I've always been curious as to who the person was behind the famous initials. What did he/she look like? What were some of his/her hobbies? To those who were also curious but never had a chance to find out, here he is...the man, the myth, the legend.

Henry Gustav Molaison

February 26, 1926 – December 2, 2008

Henry's favorite past times were crossword puzzles, playing bingo, watching TV, and socializing with his caretakers.

It's funny how a person who revolutionized the field of neuroscience wasn't even a neuroscientist.

Thank you Henry for your significant contribution to the study of memory. You will never be forgotten.


  1. Interesting article and post. I'm not a neuroscientist, nor have I studied psychology - I'm sorry if my questions seem trivial.

    I wanted to get your thoughts on something mentioned at the end of the article. Dr. Corkin mentioned that H.M thought he knew her from high school.

    What would explain this, neurologically speaking? The wikipedia article mentions his his spared extrahippocampa sites. So are those possibly compensating?

    What about the way the way Dr. Corkin presented herself. Could that would make him think he knew her. She was familiar with him - could his brain somehow have interpreted that familiarity and processed it into an assumption that he knew her? Thanks!

  2. The way memory works is this. The hippocampus is needed for spatial memory and other kinds. However it isn't sufficient. Memory is contained in associative areas spread throughout the brain as well. Perhaps it was what Dr. Corkin was wearing or something in the environment that could have activation of past memories.


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