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Permanent Present Tense

The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient, H. M. by Suzanne Corkin

4:42pm, July 11, 2013

Sixty years ago, 27-year-old Henry Molaison underwent an experimental operation in a last-ditch attempt to stop his debilitating epileptic seizures. By removing tissue from each side of Molaison’s brain, the surgeon helped quell the attacks but destroyed his patient’s ability to form new memories.

At the time, scientists didn’t know that the ability to establish long-term memory was centered in a specific part of the brain. In fact, they knew little about the workings of memory. Molaison’s unique condition made him a rich subject for study (SN: 7/27/13, p. 24), and Corkin gives readers a riveting account of those investigations.

Corkin, a neuroscientist, studied Molaison from 1962 until his death in 2008. Part memoir, part scientific history, Corkin’s book weaves together tales of working with

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