What Scientists Learned From The World’s Most Famous Amnesiac

Kent Cochrane, a man with one of the most studied brains in history, died this year at the age of 62, leaving scientists with a far greater understanding of the complex workings of the memory.

After a motorcycle accident in 1981, then 30-year-old Cochrane — popularly known as “K.C.” — developed neurological damage that resulted in extremely rare forms of amnesia. He completely lost his hippocampus, a part of the brain thought to be critical for memory, and he was left unable to recall past events or imagine future events.

But Cochrane surprised doctors by being able to remember certain things. Although his personal memories were gone, he could still recall “semantic memories” – those without emotional tone or context.

For example, he would remember people he knew, like his parents and friends from the past, but he wouldn’t be able to recall any details relating to those people or any specific times that they had spent together. He could also remember the fact that he had graduated from high school, but he couldn’t remember what his high school graduation was like.

The study of Cochrane’s brain completely shifted the way that we think about memory. —> Read More Here


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