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Living in the Moment

Article #275 • Written by Alan Bellows

▼ Scroll to Continue ▼

"I don't remember things," Henry explained to the unfamiliar female interviewer. She seemed very curious about how he spends a typical day, and about what he had eaten for breakfast, but his efforts to summon the information from his mind were fruitless. He could easily answer her questions regarding his childhood and early adult years, but the indefinite expanse of time since then was bereft of memories. In fact, from moment to moment Henry feels almost as though he has just awakened from a deep sleep, with the fleeting remnants of a dream always just beyond his grasp. Each experience, dull or dramatic, evaporates from his memory within a few dozen heartbeats and leaves no trace.

For over fifty years Henry has lived with anterograde amnesia, a form of profound memory loss which prevents new events from reaching his long-term memory. As a result his only memories are those he possessed prior to his amnesia, and the small window of moments immediately preceding the present.

The amnesia frequently depicted in fiction is a very rare retrograde variety known as dissociative fugue, where one's identity and all memories prior to the pivotal event are compromised. In contrast, anterograde amnesia does not deprive the sufferer of their identity, their past, or their skills; it merely prevents new memories from forming. As a consequence one's final memories are frozen in perpetuity, often accompanied by a constant sensation that one has just awoken from an "unconscious" state which filled the intervening time.

Henry's handicap is the unintended result of experimental brain surgery performed in 1953. In his late teens the highly intelligent student began to experience frequent grand mal seizures, characterized by loss of consciousness, muscle spasms, and rigidity. The frequency of these epileptic events increased to the point that he was stricken with spontaneous episodes of unconsciousness every few minutes. After exploring every other avenue known to contemporary medicine, Dr. William Scoville administered a radical resection of the man's medial temporal lobes in a desperate bid to reclaim some quality of life for young Henry. In that respect the experimental operation was a success-- the patient's severe seizures were reduced dramatically after the operation-- however the surgeon was distressed to discover that the removal of the hippocampi had stripped Henry of his ability to form new memories.

H.M. in situ MRI scan in the coronal plane
H.M. in situ MRI scan in the coronal plane

The development seriously hindered Henry from pursuing a normal life, but due to his condition he quickly became the world's most famous subject in the study of the human brain. His real identity is a closely kept secret to this day, and he is referred to in medical literature by only his initials, "H.M." However unfortunate, H.M.'s handicap helped to propel memory research beyond the realm of the philosophical for the first time in history. Earlier efforts to explore memory had been limited to animal studies, where scientists deliberately damaged various regions of lab animals' brains to monitor any loss of memory functions. Such experiments were not only unpleasant for the animals, but frustratingly inconclusive for the researchers.

H.M. has been described as a friendly and articulate man with a higher-than-average IQ, sporting a charming personality in spite of his condition. Now in his early eighties, he still vividly recalls events from his childhood such as the stock market crash of 1929, but he is stricken with renewed grief every time he learns of his mother's death. The grief is short-lived, however, as the substance of the news soon slips from the feeble grasp of his "working memory." In an interview with researchers, he described the sensation:

"Right now, I'm wondering, have I done or said anything amiss? You see, at this moment everything looks clear to me, but what happened just before? That's what worries me. It's like waking from a dream. I just don't remember."

Like most anterograde amnesiacs, Henry experienced a degree of retrograde amnesia as well, blurring the details of the months leading up to the fateful operation.

Similar cases of anterograde amnesia have appeared over the years, often caused by Korsakoff's Syndrome, a thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency brought on by chronic alcoholism, malnutrition, eating disorders, or poisoning. This strongly suggests that thiamine is necessary to maintain the memory-writing features of the brain. Some abnormal viral infections can also produce the affliction, as is the case with a famed music expert named Clive Wearing. His ability to store memories was destroyed by a rogue infection of the herpes simplex 1 virus which attacked his brain's hippocampus rather than triggering the typical cold sores. Other known causes include brain tumors, oxygen deprivation, and dementia-related diseases such as Alzheimer's. In each instance it is found that the hippocampi have been compromised, indicating that these small structures are vital in laying down long-term memories. The hippocampus does not seem to play a role in recollection, however, since existing memories remain accessible.

Though anterograde amnesiacs are blocked from storing new information, researchers were astonished to discover that subjects are nonetheless capable of mastering new and complex tasks over time. Subjects who repeatedly practice skills such as backwards writing or guitar-playing can demonstrate measurable improvement, though in each instance the subject believes that he or she is attempting the task for the first time. This insight cast serious doubt upon the long-held belief that all memory is stored in a common mental reservoir. It also demonstrated that procedural memory-- the "how to" memory of motor skills-- is not governed by the exact same circuitry as episodic memory (autobiographical events) and semantic memory (general knowledge and facts). Additionally, some patients have experienced the Tetris Effect hours or days after playing the game during experiments; they describe vivid dreams of falling Tetris shapes though they possess no conscious memory of the game's existence.

A diagram of one of Henry M's living spaces, and his depiction of it three years after moving out.
A diagram of one of Henry M's living spaces, and his depiction of it three years after moving out.

A neuroscientist named Suzanne Corkin has been following Henry's M.'s progress for about forty-three years, but each time she introduces herself he greets her as though he is meeting her for the first time. One one occasion, however, a nurse mentioned to Henry that "Dr. Corkin" had been asking about him, and he responded by asking, "Suzanne?" Though he could not say who she was, he had somehow managed to associate her first and last name.

Over the years a modest amount of semantic information has actually managed to seep into Henry's long-term memory, suggesting that his brain may be struggling to find alternate pathways with sporadic success. He knows that a president named John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and he can draw a roughly accurate diagram of a home where he lived for a few years following his surgery. Henry seems untroubled by the elderly face which stares back at him from the mirror, suggesting that he is unsurprised by the notion that decades that have passed since his life-changing operation. When asked what he thought about how he looked, he responded matter-of-factly, "I'm not a boy." He also seems to have learned that his memory is broken and that scientists are studying him to discover more about the human mind. Once, when asked whether he is happy, Henry responded "Yes" without hesitation. He followed with, "the way I figure it is, what they find out about me helps them to help other people."

Small talk with H.M. tends to be a bit repetitive, but occasionally revealing. During a visit to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to conduct memory tests, Dr. Corkin asked Henry if he knew where he was as they strolled down a nondescript corridor. "Why of course," he replied with a grin, "I'm at MIT!"

Taken aback, Dr. Corkin asked, "How do you know that?"

Laughing, Henry pointed at a nearby student wearing an MIT sweater. "Got you that time!"

Not only did the event demonstrate his intact sense of humor, but it showed that his powers of deduction are unhindered by his memory malady. On another occasion Henry was asked what he does to try to remember things. "Well," he replied with a chuckle, "That I don't know 'cause I don't remember what I tried."

H.M. undergoing testing at MIT
H.M. undergoing testing at MIT

In a rare example of scientific correctness in Hollywood, the reality of anterograde amnesia was depicted with reasonable accuracy in the 2001 film Memento. The filmmakers applied the concept of reverse chronology to mimic the effects of the condition, allowing viewers to share in the protagonist's confusion regarding prior events.

Owing to his unfortunate ailment Henry M. will never be able to understand the inestimable gift he has given to the field of neurology. The amnesic octogenarian presently resides in a Connecticut nursing home, where even today he continues to help researchers to coax secrets from the human mind. Furthermore, Henry's lifelong contribution to science will not cease upon his death; he and his court-appointed guardian have agreed to donate his brain to science so that neurologists may one day examine the offending lesions in detail.

Though science still possesses a poor understanding of memory's machinations, Henry and other sufferers of anterograde amnesia have provided a considerable number of indispensable clues. Their unwitting contributions will not be soon forgotten.

Update 02 December 2008, in memoriam: Sadly, the infamous and mysterious "H.M." has passed on. R.I.P., Henry Gustav Molaison. This article has been updated with subsequently released photos of Henry.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 06 June 2007. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows.
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180 Comments
thefish
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:24 am

First!


MikeyMouse
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:36 am

First what? Ya just read the first sentence of the article then had to celebrate and let everyone know?

Let us know when ya hit the second ;-)


jarvisloop
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:37 am

Toward the end of the series, the character of Jonathan Archer in "Star Trek: Enterprise" displays nearly the same symptoms; however, he is able to remember events for longer than a few minutes. Still, when he awakes the next morning, the memories of the previous day have disappeared.

All of my life, I have had great difficulty remembering people's names, even though I never forget their faces. Is it possible that anterograde amnesia can also be restricted to one area only? If so, I have not been able to find any information anywhere to this effect. Because of that, I just say that I am "learning disabled" in regard to remembering names.


jarvisloop
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:38 am

MikeyMouse said: "First what? Ya just read the first sentence of the article then had to celebrate and let everyone know?

Let us know when ya hit the second ;-)"

I doubt that the writer even read the title, let alone the first sentence.


Dublin
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:46 am

Did I just read something?

DI


debbiebf
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:46 am

Fish was first to comment. It is like taking the first peanut butter out of the jar -- it doesn't matter if you aren't really going to make a PB&J with it.

I can remember the names, but can't remember a face no matter how hard I try. They just don't imprint in my mind. I can mentally tell myself "big nose" or "scar on forehead" but without a hanger like that, I am totally lost.


ggnutsc
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:51 am

That's Damn interesting... I always thought that amnesia of this sort was product of Hollywood. It would certainly make for a different way of life.... You could eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and not get tired of it.

You would nver have to worry about jury duty. Even lovemaking would be a new experience every time...


jarvisloop
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:53 am

Dublin said: "Did I just read something?

DI"

I was hoping that no one was going to post a statement like that.

False hopes are soonest dashed, I guess.


Pasketti
Posted 06 June 2007 at 05:27 am

I'll probably go to hell for this, but my first thought was that you could mess with him by telling him all kinds of outrageous things. "Aliens invaded Earth several years ago. Now, we labor in the mines all day."

I wonder how he reacts to seeing himself on video from the previous day.


InterestedOne
Posted 06 June 2007 at 05:35 am

Great article Alan. I appreciate having a better understanding what a family member is going through. They were in an accident and have since had some symptoms similar to that in the article: largely unaffected long term memory, but trouble with (albeit not a complete absence of) short term memory. Many things have been tried, but except for the expense incurred, nothing accomplished as yet. I appreciate the article and will forward it.


Man
Posted 06 June 2007 at 05:40 am

Excellent, I had heard of this man before but this in depth article is facinating.

Guys who cant remember faces you might have Visual Agnosia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_agnosia


Geordie
Posted 06 June 2007 at 06:00 am

A number of years ago, I worked in a facility that assisted people who had experienced head injuries. We had one gentleman who had anterograde amnesia. Occasionally it was frustrating for him (imagine that you keep forgetting that you were on your way to lunch or to the bathroom), but he was one of the happiest people I know. In fact he would even say that overall he thought his life was no worse than it had been before only different and that he felt there were a lot of people who could benefit from a condition such as his.


Dublin
Posted 06 June 2007 at 06:24 am

jarvisloop said: "I was hoping that no one was going to post a statement like that.


False hopes are soonest dashed, I guess."

In fairness, the subject of this article makes fun of his own condition, who are you to be getting so over sensitive about a mild quip? Oh.. sorry, you can't remember names, jeez, you have it bad.


Dave
Posted 06 June 2007 at 06:30 am

Amnesia is scary, based on personal experience. I was once injured in an automobile accident [1], and experienced short term amnesia. Eventually, over a period of months, my memory came back. But, it was frustrating to see someone I knew, and know that I knew them, but not be able to recall their name.

[1] Well, I suppose it would be called an automobile accident. I was walking across the street and apparently stepped out in front of a car, and was flipped over it. I remember bits and pieces of flying through the air (such as "Why is that building upside down? Oh, wait, I'm upside down!"), but I never have remembered actually stepping off of the curb.

Immediately after I came to (I was apparently knocked out when I hit the ground, since I had a nice gash on my head, which I didn't even know about until a passer-by helped me up, asked if I was hurt, and asked about the cut on my head, to which I replied "I have a cut? Where?", followed by feeling around and realizing something wasn't quite right when I felt the congealing blood), I remembered my name and the city I was in, but that was all. I remember looking at a my watch and a calendar to determine the date.

Fortunately, I recovered most of my memory rather quickly, but there were bits and pieces that took longer to return.

Dave


Radiatidon
Posted 06 June 2007 at 06:42 am

My mother suffers from a form of this. Last year she lost her short-term memory. The last thing she recalled for three days was some friends arriving for dinner. During those three days her short-term lasted about 90 seconds. Like a broken record she would relapse and the first question was, “How did I get here? Is this the hospital?”

She was not scared, just slightly confused. We would take turns explaining what happened only to have to start over when the 90 seconds was up. To her it was a new experience each time since her last memory was of her friends walking in the front door.

Finally on the third day her memory lapses slowly grew further apart in time. The last occurred with 15 minutes of retention. She suffered a second memory lost about four months later but it lasted only a few hours.

My mother has no recollection of that lost time. Of the first memory lapse she remembers the friends and then suddenly being in the hospital with her family surrounding her. Of the second she remembers being on vacation and getting up from lunch and then surrounded by friends in another hospital.

The doctors have no idea what caused them. They have theories of minor strokes and such, but no proof. The tests came back negative on all accounts. They have seen this before and say that it can increase as she ages, or never happen again. Sometimes the medical profession fails in the watercolor department when it comes to painting a rosy picture for us. That is, it has to be just as frustrating for the doctors as it is for us.


J.K.
Posted 06 June 2007 at 06:51 am

"Their unwitting contributions will not be soon forgotten." -- And surely, they will be forgotten, endlessly by the suffering.


lostindustrial
Posted 06 June 2007 at 07:03 am

It says it can also be triggered by oxygen deprivation. My cousin has a similar condition. When he was a young man he literally just dropped dead one day and remained dead for 5 minutes (Dr.'s don't know why). He was revived, but his short term memory does not work very well now. I don't think it's to the extent as what is described above as he can remember certain things with great concentrated effort (he is a Mason and became one after his accident, if that tells you anything). Fortunately he is very good natured about it and jokes about it all the time. He lives a full life with his wife (also married after the accident) and grandchildren. I guess if you have no short term memory, you have no regrets!


Trykt
Posted 06 June 2007 at 07:04 am

OH MY GOD WHERE AM I HOW DID I GET IN THIS SERIES OF TUBES?

Seriously though, I'm curious about the subjects playing Tetris. Having been a frequent sufferer of the Tetris Effect (also with Lumines and lately Guitar Hero - when your dreams are all the people you know flying towards you on a metaphysical ribbon as colored dots, sleep is not as restful as you think) I think I might be absolutely terrified if I saw the world in Tetris shapes but didn't know the game existed and hence had no idea why.

In addition, wouldn't the amnesiacs forget how to play every few minutes and lose? That would be extremely frustrating if they didn't also forget why they were playing it in the first place. I've had to put in some long hours with Tetris/Lumines/Repetitive-Abstraction-Of-Choice to produce the effect so I wonder how they got those people to play it long enough to observe it.

However, since people were able to get better at the guitar over time I wonder if it's possible those people got better at Tetris too. It would be hilarious to see an old man pick up a controller and say "What's this doohickey?", have him stomp me and go "Whoops! Guess I Win!"


Evil Twin
Posted 06 June 2007 at 07:47 am

My grandmother suffered from Alzheimers and as the condition progressed, she moved from confused and agitated to apparently happy. She couldn't remember things that had happened say in the last 15 years much less what she had for breakfast 5 minutes before but was as clear as a bell on things that happened in her late twenties on back. It gave a fascinating insight into her early life and the kind of personality she had. It also helped that I had a close resemblence to her sister at my age (I was in my late teens, early twenties). It was far more frustating to my mother who was her daughter because she didn't remember that she had children.

It is amazing at how functional HM was in the research studies and it was a blessing that he had such a good sense of humor. Humor can be a wonderful defense mechanism. I especially was amused at the MIT story in the article. Great writing.


Thag
Posted 06 June 2007 at 08:08 am

I have always been interested in memory and ways to improve it. Took some Management courses that emphasized the ability to remember names in business settings and received instruction on "pinning" information to existing memories. Short version is to visualize a room you know exceptionally well, walk through the room in your thoughts and associate things or people with items in the room. So if I want to remember Dave, I would picture a familiar Dave with a newly acquainted Dave sitting together on the couch in my mental room. Works pretty well for me.

I would be curious to see if this technique could be applied to those suffering from amnesia. They have strong existing pre-amnesia long-term memories that could be used to pin the new memories to. Perhaps the simultaneous access and use of both processes would help.


Plank
Posted 06 June 2007 at 08:18 am

This is just more proof to me that humans are very far from understanding how our brains really work. It is incredible that these patients that have never played a guitar before (or so they think), can pick it up and play. Perhaps it is a "muscle memory" or repetition of the movement that is somehow programmed into their arms and hands.

DI indeed!


Rinson Drei
Posted 06 June 2007 at 09:09 am

Gene Wolfe has written three excellent books around daily amnesia, Soldier of Arete, Soldier of the Mist, and Soldier of Sidon. The protagonist is a Latin mercenary in the time of the Persian Wars. The books are his nightly journal used to remind/warn him the next morning of his situation. Along the way, he believably outwits those around him who would use him, even the gods.


dylanfan
Posted 06 June 2007 at 09:12 am

When I worked in a nursing home, we had a patient with Alzheimer's. She would ask us about every five minutes or so when her husband was going to come and pick her up. Then she would go look out the door and the window, endlessly waiting for him, when he had been dead for years. It was funny at times, because you could tell her anything. "Oh, he said you could stay here for the night, it's all been paid for." That would relieve her for a few minutes, then she would be back. Very sad to think that you're family is at home and they need you and you can't get to them. Her daughter would take her out for the day, and by supper she would have forgotten all about it.
Memory is one of the most fascinating subjects, in my opinion, especially when you remember something happening one way, and it really happened another way. How many memories of ours are wrong or just plain false? Very unsettling, and very DI article.


lockedout
Posted 06 June 2007 at 10:45 am

"scientists deliberately damaged various regions of lab animals' brains to monitor any loss of memory functions. Such experiments were not only unpleasant for the animals, but frustratingly inconclusive for the researchers." Unpleasant for the animals? I'm sure that's an understatement


Merciless
Posted 06 June 2007 at 11:57 am

Kudos to the men and women patiently working with these individuals. Key word "patiently." I would be found hammering my head on the desk asking why....why....why.


Floj
Posted 06 June 2007 at 12:17 pm

That's one of the most amazing stories I have ever heard. H. M. is the kind of person that defines a hero a modern hero in that has to deal with the fact that he won't know what just happened yet remains happy, and helps everyone else in the world understand what makes them work. Truly a great man. He deserves his own giant slice of pie, extra whip cream for sure.

Radiatidon said: "My mother suffers from a form of this. Last year she lost her short-term memory. The last thing she recalled for three days was some friends arriving for dinner. During those three days her short-term lasted about 90 seconds. Like a broken record she would relapse and the first question was, “How did I get here? Is this the hospital?” "

Wow, that sounds like the amnesia mentioned in this article:
http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=477
I just got hit with some Baader-Meinhof.

thefish said: "First!"

The first slice of pie isn't always the biggest.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 06 June 2007 at 03:13 pm

I saw a special on Discovery a couple years ago about this guy who had some kind of brain damage to the area that stores memories of peoples faces. Because of his ailment anytime one of his children ran up to him, he had no idea who they were. Evidently this was also the same area of the brain that stored still objects, such as furniture; imagine the adventure waking up every day and re-navigating your house!

I do find it very interesting that Henry's brain is acting as though it's trying to rewire itself, albeit sporadically, to store memories somewhere. I know researchers had done some studies with London cab drivers, and found the the area in the posterior hippocampus where memories of city streets are stored was significantly larger than those of the average Joe. Similar research has been done on blind people to show how the audio receptive parts of the brain take over a large part of the brain not being used for vision. The plasticity of the human brain never ceases to amaze!

DI Alan, DI indeed. Let's try not to wait so long between posts, eh?


Joshua
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:09 pm

In addition to Memento there was also 50 First Dates, starring Drew Barrymore as its anterograde amnesiac.


Jonathan Field
Posted 06 June 2007 at 04:15 pm

Nicely written article... I was skeptical at first that I could learn anything interesting about amnesia after Memento and a thousand far less clever films and television shows on the topic. But this article actually gave me some new and damn interesting bits of information. I find the ability to learn tasks especially interesting. The mind is quite a curious machine.


Goodtwin
Posted 06 June 2007 at 05:37 pm

Fabulously interesting, Alan...But what are you doing up at 4 a.m.?


Gadz
Posted 06 June 2007 at 09:12 pm

I can't believe no one has said this yet...

I wonder what would happen if they showed H.M. Memento?


openside
Posted 06 June 2007 at 10:09 pm

EVERYTHINGZEN said: Let's try not to wait so long between posts, eh?"

Am I the only one who thinks it is almost rude/ungrateful to bemoan the fact that stories are a little more sporadic than previous?
Frankly I am amazed that such good content comes up as regularly as it does, and all that is asked in return is a donation (even that is almost surreptitious)

Patience is a virtue, and all good things come to those who wait.

I for one, and I'm sure I am not alone, appreciate it all - Thanks DI.


CoryP
Posted 06 June 2007 at 10:58 pm

"Let's try not to wait so long between posts, eh?"

You have to savor the wanting as much as the having.


SmarterChild
Posted 07 June 2007 at 12:43 am

Is Henry still alive?

And I hope that they do learn enough to be able to help people in the future with the same ailment.

Jonathan Field said: "Nicely written article… I was skeptical at first that I could learn anything interesting about amnesia after Memento and a thousand far less clever films and television shows on the topic. But this article actually gave me some new and damn interesting bits of information. I find the ability to learn tasks especially interesting. The mind is quite a curious machine."

It is quite intersting that the brain found other ways to process new information or amybe it just cahnged route slightly; from what I understand we are not quite sure if learning new tasks used the same part of the brain as short term memory?


dramafreak006
Posted 07 June 2007 at 01:53 am

Perhaps a lot of it is muscle memory as mentioned above. If you repeat the same actions over and over again your body goes into autopilot and you mind can focus on something else. For example in theatre if toy are doing a fight scene you practice it over and over at slow speed, then repeat that at half speed, and only after doing this you practice at full speed. If you do this the actions become natural and you forget you are even doing them


Plank
Posted 07 June 2007 at 02:52 am

openside said: "I for one, and I'm sure I am not alone, appreciate it all - Thanks DI."

Nope, you are not alone, the effort is definitely much appreciated!

Alan, I couldn't help but notice that 4 out of the last 5 articles were written by you. What happened to all the "shiny new writers" we were told about?


Dave Group
Posted 07 June 2007 at 03:22 am

To Man and EVERYTHINGZEN,

I believe the condition you are referring to is prosopagnosia, or face blindness. It's usually associated with autism and may affect about 2% of the population. Basically, sufferers cannot recognize celebrities or even their own relatives. Faces are usually processed in a separate area of the brain, but in these people, they are processed in the same area as objects.


Dave Group
Posted 07 June 2007 at 03:23 am

BTW, anyone remember Tom Hanks on Saturday Night Live as Mr. Short-Term Memory?

BTW, anyone remember Tom Hanks on Saturday Night Live as Mr. Short-Term Memory?

BTW . . .


Joel Gibson
Posted 07 June 2007 at 03:29 am

Also remember, you can find, write and submit your own damninteresting articles


jarvisloop
Posted 07 June 2007 at 04:29 am

Dublin said: "In fairness, the subject of this article makes fun of his own condition, who are you to be getting so over sensitive about a mild quip? Oh.. sorry, you can't remember names, jeez, you have it bad."

I'm afraid that you misunderstood. I will rephrase it for you: "I was hoping that no one was going to stoop to making such an obvious and unoriginal joke." I never thought for a second that you were making fun of HM.

Sorry that you have difficulty interpreting even the least subtle of statements and get so sensitive over the mildest of observations. Jeez, you have it bad.


SAreader
Posted 07 June 2007 at 05:02 am

Wow, sure gives you new respect for the elder and for the people that take care of them.


jarvisloop
Posted 07 June 2007 at 05:10 am

lostindustrial said: "It says it can also be triggered by oxygen deprivation. My cousin has a similar condition."

(I'm sorry, but this entry about my physically-handicapped brother is lengthy. At the end, I have two main points that derive from the entry and relate to lostindustrial's comments.)

I'm glad to read that your cousin is able to live a relatively normal life. The story of my brother is not so pleasant.

When he was five, he entered the hospital for a tonsillectomy, a procedure at one considered to be extremely minor. Unfortunately, the doctor administering the gas gave him too much, and he nearly killed my brother. Oxygen did not reach his brain for five to ten minutes, and, as a result, he suffered a series of severely debilitating strokes. These strokes completely erased from his brain all ability to move any muscle voluntarily. All that was left was breathing and the beating of his heart.

Barely alive, he was rushed from our local hospital to a children's hospital. In the operating room, the doctors performed a tracheotomy so that my brother could breathe. Due to the strokes, my brother's tongue and throat had swollen to such a degree that air could not enter his lungs.

Here comes the rest of the story, albeit greatly summarized:
1. Spent six weeks in ICU, three months total in hospital
2. Tube inserted into abdomen so that he could receive liquid food
3. Suffered more strokes; doctors lost count
4. Declared legally dead four times; came back each time
5. Suffered nine cardiac arrests
6. Had been a rightie; now a leftie because left side of brain suffered the most damage
7. Legally blind because of lack of oxygen severely damaged the optic nerve
8. Could not walk for years; was bedridden for many months; eventually was able to scoot across floor
9. Had to relearn how to eat and walk. Still falls on occasion.
10. Since the doctor's nearly fatal overdose, my brother has never run, played a sport, thrown or caught a ball, or driven a car. In short, everything that we take for granted was stolen from him.
11. Had to fight prejudices of those who judge only by appearance, not by content of mind and character.
12. Had many people at school who were friendly to him, but no one ever came to the house to see him or, later, take him out with them to see a movie, go to a game, or anything.

Amazingly and much to the astonishment and initial disbelief of the doctors and (later) educational psychologists, my brother's mental abilities were not impaired at all. He graduated from high school and college, and he now lives on his own in a major city. Ironically, he works at a children's hospital.

Occasionally, as he is walking home, a police officer will stop to talk to him because the officer thinks that my brother is publicly intoxicated. Because of his acquired cerebral palsy, my brother cannot walk as you and I. It's amazing that he's alive, let alone walking.

I have written all of the above so that I can write the following:

1. Whenever I start to think that I have some problems in my life, all I have to do is think of my brother. I have many people whom I admire, but my brother is the only true hero whom I know personally. He didn't ask for this to be done to him; he didn't voluntarily enter a hazardous profession, knowing ahead of time that he might have to put his life on the line. Instead, he was given a burden, and he did not have the choice to take it or to refuse it. He has never complained once about his reduced lot in life.
When I think of the times that I have bemoaned my state in life, I am ashamed.

2. lostindustrial, how old was your cousin when the accident happened? Was he fairly young, as was my brother? According to the reports that I have read, the human brain can recover more easily from severe trauma when the person is younger because the brain is more "plastic." I know of few recoveries that are full and complete, but those that have occurred have taken place with extremely young persons.

lostindustrial, your cousin has my best wishes for a long and happy life, along with my sincere admiration.

jarvisloop


J.K.
Posted 07 June 2007 at 07:02 am

No you're right to be ripping on that guy for complaining about the frequency of updates. I can see his point though as there was that huge kindly given article stating to expect Mon/Thur updates every week and it petered out. But hey, they're writing one hell of a 'damn interesting' book that expands on all the meat this site has and more so I think they have justification for being slack on posts.


Rinson Drei
Posted 07 June 2007 at 08:07 am

jarvisloop said: "I'm afraid that you misunderstood. I will rephrase it for you: "I was hoping that no one was going to stoop to making such an obvious and unoriginal joke." I never thought for a second that you were making fun of HM.

Sorry that you have difficulty interpreting even the least subtle of statements and get so sensitive over the mildest of observations. Jeez, you have it bad."

I for one was hoping you wouldn't come back with a sarcastic, unoriginal, and useless rejoinder. But, predictable, you let me down. ;^)


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 07 June 2007 at 08:30 am

openside said: "Am I the only one who thinks it is almost rude/ungrateful to bemoan the fact that stories are a little more sporadic than previous?

Frankly I am amazed that such good content comes up as regularly as it does, and all that is asked in return is a donation (even that is almost surreptitious)

Patience is a virtue, and all good things come to those who wait.

I for one, and I'm sure I am not alone, appreciate it all - Thanks DI."

How is me asking for more posts unappreciative? It was a compliment. Should be homage to the writers, they are SO good we would like to see some more articles every day! As far as appreciation goes, you took it upon yourself to comment on myself and not the greatness of the article. Yet I'm rude?

Dave Group-

Thanks, I hate it when I can't remember the name of something....seems to happen all the time, LOL.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 07 June 2007 at 09:11 am

The idea of motor-skills memory being independent from conscious memory is pretty neat. It could be possible for an amnesiac to be sure they've never touched a guitar, but pick one up and play skillfully. Something we all wish we could do and hopefully a nice surprise for an amnesiac.

This article brings up the question of what is more important: the memory or the moment? If you had the chance to spend an entire year in absolute bliss (ie. on vacation having the best time of your life) and then forget that entire year completely, would you still do it?


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 07 June 2007 at 09:31 am

Nicki that's a good question; on the one hand I say yes, because even if you don't remember it you might as well go ahead and go for it. But that's kind of like saying "I'm going to go to the best, wildest party of the year and am going to get obliviated" and then drinking so much you have no idea what the party was like or any other event of the night. But then I guess at least with that you would know you went to the party (maybe). I've had a lot of nights like that though, I remember where I started but have no idea what all happened or how I ended up at my final landing spot and I got really tired of it. I quit drinking like that :)

I would say give me my year of blissful ignorance, if it's the only time I'll ever have for an experience like that. Even if I forget all about it...you can take pictures though, right?


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 07 June 2007 at 11:22 am

Sure, but would they mean much without the emotions and memories attached?


Tink
Posted 07 June 2007 at 11:23 am

All I can say today is wow! Thank you Alan! DI!

Thank you Jarvisloop, too, and everyone else who shared your stories. See ya in a few days, gotta flu bug, going back to bed now, hugs...


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 07 June 2007 at 11:54 am

Hmmph...maybe not. But I have a few pictures of me in Hawaii last year that I don't remember having taken and they sure do make me smile :) Mostly just because I was there, and it was the time of my life (at this point, I'm only 25 though so something cooler might be coming down the pipes for me) Knowing that, I would totally go even if it meant not remembering any of it.

I totally see what youre getting at though...would you go?


jarvisloop
Posted 07 June 2007 at 12:38 pm

Nicki the Heinous said: "The idea of motor-skills memory being independent from conscious memory is pretty neat. It could be possible for an amnesiac to be sure they've never touched a guitar, but pick one up and play skillfully. Something we all wish we could do and hopefully a nice surprise for an amnesiac.

This article brings up the question of what is more important: the memory or the moment? If you had the chance to spend an entire year in absolute bliss (ie. on vacation having the best time of your life) and then forget that entire year completely, would you still do it?"

Nicki:

I am not trying to be funny with this response. I spent a couple of years nearly exactly like that; I won't go into the details, but let's just say that I was young and in college. I had a great deal of fun, most of which I can't recall for various reasons. I also had a great deal of pain, most of which I can't clearly recall, either. In sum, I lost two years of my life, and I had to play catch-up. Today, I regret those years. I wish that I had exercised my intellect more.

Pan, the goat-man god, is a metaphor for mankind, of course. I am sorry to say that my bestial side held preeminence for a while. Actually, I was a Mr. Hyde, and the good doctor was nowhere to be found.

I hope that you do not make the same mistakes that I did. They will cost you big time, believe me, in ways that you can't even begin to imagine right now. (I am assuming that you are under twenty-five. If I am wrong, please accept my apologies. It is just that you write with a youthful optimism instead of an older cynicism. Regardless of your age, I hope that you don't lose your optimism. I lost that and my faith when I was 14. It makes life interesting, I'll say that much. Not necessarily pleasant, just interesting. I need to think less and live more, I guess.)


jarvisloop
Posted 07 June 2007 at 12:41 pm

Tink said: "All I can say today is wow! Thank you Alan! DI!

Thank you Jarvisloop, too, and everyone else who shared your stories. See ya in a few days, gotta flu bug, going back to bed now, hugs…"

Thank YOU. I hope that you feel better soon.


djsteiniii
Posted 07 June 2007 at 12:51 pm

jarvisloop said:

All of my life, I have had great difficulty remembering people's names, even though I never forget their faces. Is it possible that anterograde amnesia can also be restricted to one area only? If so, I have not been able to find any information anywhere to this effect. Because of that, I just say that I am "learning disabled" in regard to remembering names."

This is quite common for a number of reasons. 1) Typically, when you meet someone, you're usually trying to think of something to say when you hear their name, so really you don't forget the name - you simply never "get" it. A good way to overcome this is to repeat the person's name. A better way to overcome this is to form an association around the person's name. 2) Remembering a face is a recognition task, which is easier than the recall task of remembering a name. If, when you saw someone you had previously met, they handed you a list of names and said, "Which one is mine?", you'd probably "remember" their name then. 3) Since this is so common, most people don't work to remember names. Mnemonic techniques, while amazingly effective, are "work" (i.e. they take extra effort). There's a great book called "Your Memory - How it Works and How to Improve It." Good stuff...


Radiatidon
Posted 07 June 2007 at 03:23 pm

One thing I find fascinating is how the brain regulates its own blood flow. Various areas of the brain will increase in activity depending on what you are doing, requiring a greater blood flow to that area for oxygen, fuel, and waste removal. This creates a plumber’s nightmare of constant flow redirection every second of every day. A mismanaged redirection from a hard working area and voila, the “Uh, what was I thinking?” syndrome of a lost thought or “It was just there on the tip of my tongue.” Misadventure.

Since the supply is limited by the size of the arteries and veins, other areas of the brain have to receive less. Science has yet to discover how the brain controls these flow patterns. All in all, the brain is a very unique and interesting organ indeed.

Now. What was I just thinking of...


Spike
Posted 07 June 2007 at 05:11 pm

First of all, Tink, get better.

Now down to the article, extremely interesting. The pathways of the brain are very interesting. I especially found the odd bits of information that you wouldn't think of as being accessable to HM, coming out interesting. The part about procedural memory also got my attention. Often, athletes and martial artists practice moves over and over and talk about muscle memory. This training allows the body to react "without thinking. Now we all know that the brain has to be involved, but it's an interesting thought. The brain is amazing.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 07 June 2007 at 05:48 pm

Radiatidon said: "One thing I find fascinating is how the brain regulates its own blood flow. Various areas of the brain will increase in activity depending on what you are doing, requiring a greater blood flow to that area for oxygen, fuel, and waste removal. This creates a plumber’s nightmare of constant flow redirection every second of every day. A mismanaged redirection from a hard working area and voila, the “Uh, what was I thinking?” syndrome of a lost thought or “It was just there on the tip of my tongue.” Misadventure.
"

That is cool, now I think maybe something in my head has screwed up my blood flow which is why I lose my train of thought frequently. It wasn't from the drug induced haze of the late nineties and early 21st century! I'm so relieved! Jarvisloop, let's go celebrate...

I also recently spent some time reading up on the blood brain barrier, is that not the coolest thing or what! Stuff like this makes me remember why I wanted to go into neuroscience. Awesome stuff Alan, we love your writing!


Bewildered
Posted 07 June 2007 at 09:58 pm

I wonder if it's possible to play 2 player games with yourself such as chess or cards? You'd have to have a system of remembering who's turn it was, maybe a card with white on one side and black on the other and you change the card over after each turn... I assume that since the game was sitting in front of you you'd remember that you were actually playing a game... DI.


Plank
Posted 08 June 2007 at 12:31 am

Following on from the holiday question, here is another that would be tough to answer, well for me at least.

Would you rather have anterograde amnesia or retrograde amnesia. So let's say you turn 40 and are involved in an accident that causes amnesia. Would you rather remember everything before the accident and not remember anything afterwards (anterograde, such as H.M.), or would you rather not remember your life before the accident and only remember things that happen afterwards (retrograde)?
I hope that made sense :)

Just thinking about it gives me the greatest feeling of respect for H.M. and others who suffer from mental illnesses such as this.


SmarterChild
Posted 08 June 2007 at 01:31 am

I would much rather suffer anterograde such as H.M, I feel that the stories from your past are what make you who you are. Imagine waking up and seeing all these faces you dont know only to find out that they are your family? I can understand how retrograde might seem to appear jsut as bad but I think I would rather have a past than a fresh start from half way through my life. It does come to my attention age would play a factor if you were young and couldn't remember your past it would not affect you as much as say a 35 yr old onwards.


openside
Posted 08 June 2007 at 01:47 am

EVERYTHINGZEN said: As far as appreciation goes, you took it upon yourself to comment on myself and not the greatness of the article. Yet I'm rude?

Actually, I just used your comment to segway to mine. I never called you rude, but if the cap fits...


Jeffrey93
Posted 08 June 2007 at 04:27 am

On another occasion Henry was asked what he does to try to remember things. "Well," he replied with a chuckle, "That I don't know ’cause I don't remember what I tried

This guy is pretty darn funny for having such a brutal condition. I guess you can't really go nuts or become suicidal if you can't remember one moment to the next. This condition might be actually a little euphoric. You can feel highs and lows but forget them almost immediately, nothing would bother you for more than a moment. You would have absolutely zero stress and you would almost be incapable of worrying.

Watching my fiance's cats run around, I imagine this is how their brains work. They are distracted very easily and start doing something only to stop moments later and become interested in something else.
They also don't seem to remember that the last time they tried eating the plastic plant they got terribly sick, because they do it every few days. If they don't have some sort of memory condition like Henry, then they are an awfully stupid animal.


jarvisloop
Posted 08 June 2007 at 04:44 am

djsteiniii said: "This is quite common for a number of reasons. 1) Typically, when you meet someone, you're usually trying to think of something to say when you hear their name, so really you don't forget the name - you simply never "get" it. A good way to overcome this is to repeat the person's name. A better way to overcome this is to form an association around the person's name. 2) Remembering a face is a recognition task, which is easier than the recall task of remembering a name. If, when you saw someone you had previously met, they handed you a list of names and said, "Which one is mine?", you'd probably "remember" their name then. 3) Since this is so common, most people don't work to remember names. Mnemonic techniques, while amazingly effective, are "work" (i.e. they take extra effort). There's a great book called "Your Memory - How it Works and How to Improve It." Good stuff…"

Thanks for the help, but I have tried each of those over and over. No luck. It's strange, really. I can remember extremely obscure bits of trivia that are not related to anything in my life or in my profession at all, but names still remain difficult.

I wonder what a psychiatrist would make of this, if anything at all? Perhaps he/she would claim that I am deliberately not remembering their names because I am essentially a loner. On the other hand, I don't believe in the subconscious or in spontaneous, unthinking actions. Instead, I believe in full and total responsibility, unless, of course, a person has had a date-rape genre of drug slipped into his/her drink.


jarvisloop
Posted 08 June 2007 at 04:50 am

EVERYTHINGZEN said: "That is cool, now I think maybe something in my head has screwed up my blood flow which is why I lose my train of thought frequently. It wasn't from the drug induced haze of the late nineties and early 21st century! I'm so relieved! Jarvisloop, let's go celebrate…"

I don't if your era or my era was worse, but mine was pretty wild, wilder even than the Roaring Twenties, which, according to most history books and sociologists, was one of the most turbulent times in our country's history in terms of changing social mores and norms.

Essentially, it seems that every day of this country's history has been witness to some sort of challenge to the predominant culture. Today, it seems that most people are exercised about illegal immigration. From my perspective, their reaction primarily seems to be based upon a fear of their culture changing, a fear even greater than a possible of jobs for some persons.

Ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.


Jeffrey93
Posted 08 June 2007 at 06:10 am

jarvisloop said: " Today, it seems that most people are exercised about illegal immigration. From my perspective, their reaction primarily seems to be based upon a fear of their culture changing, ..."

I think it's more of a fear that people are breaking the law and flaunting that fact. This will spiral off topic, but can somebody explain to me how certain people can break the law and go to rallies and flaunt the fact on national television that they broke the law, while others get locked up because they urinated behind a party store at 3am.

I think the judicial system must have selective anterograde amnesia, "Huh? What illegal immigrants broadcasting on national tv that they broke the laws of this country, what are you talking about? I don't remember seeing anything like that."


Lista
Posted 08 June 2007 at 06:54 am

What's so great about this site is that not only are the articles damn interesting, but the comments too. It's like a bigger, equally interesting read, and that's simply amazing.

Damn interesting has damn interesting audience, without a doubt!


J.K.
Posted 08 June 2007 at 07:12 am

Maybe some of the comments will end up with permission at the end of articles in the book too as special insights and potential given links to extra like stuff people can look up.


EVERYTHINGZEN
Posted 08 June 2007 at 08:20 am

Plank-

I would rather remember everything in the past than forget it all and only have future memories. Especially considering as you age your memory worsens and Alzheimers is very prevelant in today's society. I think most every senior citizen I have ever cared for in my years in health care has lost mental falculties at some point. I don't want to forget my son as a baby, toddler, and the adorable 5 year old he is today. And of course depending on my age I would want to remember his wedding and all that. Now if this happened when I was like 30...I think I may feel differently about it.

Of course if it happens, you really have no choice on the matter and wouldn't remember if you did!


InterestedOne
Posted 08 June 2007 at 01:23 pm

Nicki the Heinous said: "This article brings up the question of what is more important: the memory or the moment? If you had the chance to spend an entire year in absolute bliss (ie. on vacation having the best time of your life) and then forget that entire year completely, would you still do it?"

Good question Nicki. I for one do not want to forget. Although some may disagree, I believe we're the sum of our experiences. I do not believe I would be the same if I had not experienced the wonders of nature close up, such as: being too close to the lip of an active volcano when it exploded (yep, stoopid), or too near the edge while walking on what we later learned was the top portion of one the bergs of Glacier Bay, or stayed way too long in too many hurricanes, or way too close to the edge of the grand canyon, or had I not experienced the wonders of man all around the world such as the only one of the great wonders of the world still standing (the view from the top is great), or at the artwork in the metro around the Kremlin or the Faberge egg collection, or any of the artwork in Paris, or Rome (Vatican). Because of my experiences I am constantly amazed at the wonders I've seen displayed on the earth by nature and man, and can live my life with continuing hope for a great future because no matter what I'm going through, there's some seriously amazing stuff all around - and it's way cool. With no memory of it all, I believe I could still be happy, just not with so much continuing hope.


JPF
Posted 08 June 2007 at 07:40 pm

Great article Alan, You continue to produce DI articles. I always enjoy reading them and am delighted when I sign on and find you have posted a new one. I missed the opportunity to contribute when you asked for contributions but I'm going to go over to that section now and drop my money in the pot!

Thank you


jkschlitz
Posted 08 June 2007 at 07:46 pm

For a period of several years I could never remember Christopher Walken's name. I've seen several of his movies and I really like him, and he is pretty unforgettable. But for some reason I had a complete mental block when it came to his name. I'd always have to look him up or, if I was talking to someone, name movies and roles until they came up with the name for me. I always felt silly and frustrated; you'd think that after making such a big deal about it I'd be able to retain it. One day a year or so ago I was talking to my husband about a movie and the name just came out with no problem. I didn't even notice until he said, "You remembered his name!" Ever since yhen I've remembered, though it does usually take me a few seconds to come up with it. I wish I knew how the change happened but I have no idea.


Vivienne89
Posted 09 June 2007 at 07:06 am

Really great article.

^-

I'm totally amazed with our brain. It can do such complex jobs like a biological computer.
It does many things without even we know about it, like heart beat and all..

Though for me, I'm good at memorizing games, though I hardly remember people faces that I just met.
Like if I go to a restaurant, and I see the waitress..... in the same clothes and hair.... hell, they all like twins to me!!


Captain Impulse
Posted 09 June 2007 at 07:43 pm

thefish said: "First!"

First idiot. Congrats.

Damn interesting article though.


Alan Bellows
Posted 10 June 2007 at 03:05 pm

Goodtwin said: "Fabulously interesting, Alan…But what are you doing up at 4 a.m.?"

Thanks! My day-job as an independent contractor is pretty demanding, so many (most) of my articles are the product of several days or weeks of research followed by an all-night writing session (see: http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=133).

Plank said: "Alan, I couldn't help but notice that 4 out of the last 5 articles were written by you. What happened to all the "shiny new writers" we were told about?"

Well, two of the new writers (Zack and Stephanie) didn't stick around for very long, I guess it wasn't their cup(s) of tea. We've also had several recent author departures due to the demands of outside life (college, family, career, etc). As of right now, we're down to four actively contributing authors (myself included).

Fortunately none have left the project due to anger or bitterness, so when/if the distracting demands subside, several have stated they'd like to come back. Also, we've stepped up our efforts to find new writers over the past few weeks, and we hope to reinforce our writing crew soon. One new chap has already joined us, so you should see his first stuff in the coming weeks. Ultimately, my goal is to get us back up to the 9 to 10 regular writers we once enjoyed, but that'll take some time.


Floj
Posted 11 June 2007 at 02:23 am

I remeber those days, they were like pie. Granted pie isn't all about quantity. One slice of some good ol' pie is plenty to satisfy once a week. mmmhmm.

Thanks Alan for keeping the Damn Interesting flowing.


jarvisloop
Posted 11 June 2007 at 04:32 am

This morning (Mon 11 June 07), I found a comic that addresses, to a degree, the subject matter of the DI article. Here's the url: http://www.gocomics.com/shoe/

Keep in mind that each of us faces old age and its attendant problems someday.

Not a pleasant thought.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 11 June 2007 at 09:03 am

jarvisloop said: "Nicki:


I am not trying to be funny with this response. I spent a couple of years nearly exactly like that; I won't go into the details, but let's just say that I was young and in college. I had a great deal of fun, most of which I can't recall for various reasons. I also had a great deal of pain, most of which I can't clearly recall, either. In sum, I lost two years of my life, and I had to play catch-up. Today, I regret those years. I wish that I had exercised my intellect more.

Pan, the goat-man god, is a metaphor for mankind, of course. I am sorry to say that my bestial side held preeminence for a while. Actually, I was a Mr. Hyde, and the good doctor was nowhere to be found.

I hope that you do not make the same mistakes that I did. They will cost you big time, believe me, in ways that you can't even begin to imagine right now. (I am assuming that you are under twenty-five. If I am wrong, please accept my apologies. It is just that you write with a youthful optimism instead of an older cynicism. Regardless of your age, I hope that you don't lose your optimism. I lost that and my faith when I was 14. It makes life interesting, I'll say that much. Not necessarily pleasant, just interesting. I need to think less and live more, I guess.)"

jarvisloop:

Thanks for the advice. It seems you haven't given in to cynicism completely or you wouldn't have bothered to address me. My optimism is hard-won, not the easy optimism of youth (though you are correct about my age, good read!) I had a similar loss of faith/optimism around 16 with a couple years wasted in the company of Mr. Hyde. It's a hard fight out from there but thankfully the Hyde side has claws with which to drag the good doctor back. Realism has its uses but without the balancing optimism it spells a bitter life.

You contradict yourself above: wishing you had used your intellect more during those years, yet telling yourself that now you need to think less and live more. It seems you have swung from one extreme to the other in a short period of time (I assume you are still under 35, apologies if I'm mistaken) and have not yet found your balance. Neither have I. It seems you and I have gotten so caught up in caution so there isn't much danger of being reckless. Clawing back that optimism takes time, but I've seized enough to be certain that one day life will be interesting as well as pleasant. I sincerely hope you find your happy medium. Don't worry, you will.

Nicki (the heinous and the optimist)


Radiatidon
Posted 11 June 2007 at 12:00 pm

Some people have mentioned that they have problems recognizing faces. There is a unique section of the brain that is used for just facial recognition. As in color blindness, if this area is slightly damaged or underdeveloped it makes facial memory harder for people. Or as in the case of brain damage causing the loss of the short-term memory retention, a sufferer could lose all ability to even remotely identify not only family members, but also even their own face.

If this area is underdeveloped or damaged, the person cannot recognize a face they have seen either years ago or mere moments ago. It is called [I]prosopagnosia[/I]. More information here http://www.faceblind.org/research/. It is mentioned as a side note in http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=793 but briefly. The BBC program “The Brain” had a fellow who after an auto accident can only realize a photo or mirror image is his face if told so, let alone his children’s or other family members.

These people learn to identify others by voice, hair, mannerisms, etc. Some describe a persons face as either not there or a jumble not unlike an incomplete puzzle with the pieces lying haphazard on the board.

What an astonishing organ the brain is, and the strange happenings if portions are damage.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 11 June 2007 at 01:49 pm

Alan Bellows said: Also, we've stepped up our efforts to find new writers over the past few weeks, and we hope to reinforce our writing crew soon. One new chap has already joined us, so you should see his first stuff in the coming weeks. Ultimately, my goal is to get us back up to the 9 to 10 regular writers we once enjoyed, but that'll take some time."

Alan,

Thanks for your time and contributions. To lighten your load, have you considered allowing people to submit single articles casually? I understand why this would be a pain if it were the only source of writing, but it could help supplement your regular writers nicely. You could build up a 'stock' of articles for use when you need a break or if one of your writers can't contribute. It would also let those who are leery of the commitment to contribute without having to put aside the demands of the outside life. Just an idea.


lostindustrial
Posted 12 June 2007 at 06:50 am

2. lostindustrial, how old was your cousin when the accident happened?

I don't know exactly, but I know he was an adult. 20's perhaps. He is near 60 now.

lostindustrial, your cousin has my best wishes for a long and happy life, along with my sincere admiration.

Thanks. He is aware that he is a very very lucky man.


BartC3
Posted 12 June 2007 at 08:09 am

Also it seems they got this disorder right in 'The Lookout.', a movie released earlier this year.
They show the frustration, and the limitations it provides.


Nicki the Heinous
Posted 14 June 2007 at 08:54 am

EVERYTHINGZEN said: "Hmmph…maybe not. But I have a few pictures of me in Hawaii last year that I don't remember having taken and they sure do make me smile :) Mostly just because I was there, and it was the time of my life (at this point, I'm only 25 though so something cooler might be coming down the pipes for me) Knowing that, I would totally go even if it meant not remembering any of it.


I totally see what youre getting at though…would you go?"

You know, I might just


xsplat
Posted 14 June 2007 at 09:33 am

jarvisloop said: "Toward the end of the series, the character of Jonathan Archer in "Star Trek: Enterprise" displays nearly the same symptoms; however, he is able to remember events for longer than a few minutes. Still, when he awakes the next morning, the memories of the previous day have disappeared.

All of my life, I have had great difficulty remembering people's names, even though I never forget their faces. Is it possible that anterograde amnesia can also be restricted to one area only? If so, I have not been able to find any information anywhere to this effect. Because of that, I just say that I am "learning disabled" in regard to remembering names."

debbiebf said: "Fish was first to comment. It is like taking the first peanut butter out of the jar — it doesn't matter if you aren't really going to make a PB&J with it.

I can remember the names, but can't remember a face no matter how hard I try. They just don't imprint in my mind. I can mentally tell myself "big nose" or "scar on forehead" but without a hanger like that, I am totally lost."

I can not remember either names or faces, unless I make a strong emotional bond with the person. I once spent a full day talking with an attractive girl, only to not recognize her the next day. But if it's love at first sight or I feel the person became my true friend or is some-how connected to me, I'll remember. It is difficult for people to understand me when I explain to them that I won't remember their name. I can't remember even for 2 minutes on most encounters.


alamosh
Posted 16 June 2007 at 04:34 pm

"One one occasion, however, a nurse mentioned to Henry that "Dr. Corkin" had been asking about him, and he responded by asking, "Suzanne?""

Should say "On one occasion...". Just a small typo. Damn Interesting article, thanks!


Hoekstes
Posted 21 June 2007 at 07:42 am

Alan Bellows said: "Thanks! My day-job as an independent contractor is pretty demanding, so many (most) of my articles are the product of several days or weeks of research followed by an all-night writing session (see: http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=133)."

I don't remember what I wanted to say now. Guess I just like quoting Alan because it makes me feel important. What the hell did I do with my mouse.


Mez
Posted 30 June 2007 at 05:53 am

I wonder if before he managed topermanently implant the knowledge of his condition in his memory he was constantly spending time figuring out that he must have amnesia.


Kao_Valin
Posted 12 July 2007 at 08:04 am

Actually the area responsible for playing a guitar is in the bottom rear of the skull just above the pons (pons controling heart beat and breathing, the most basic brain element). I forget what its called right off but it is responsible for coordination. It isnt surprizing he could learn in that area but not in more symbolic (names and other labels) centric memory. It is just like trying to teach someone hands on (teaching the coordination's memory), using pictures (spacial memory), or just lectures (verbal memory). I believe auditory and spacial are linked to the ears and eyes respectively, but of that I am not certain.

The brain breaks up tasks to best suited areas because of the required performance for such tasks. Much like a computer which has both RAM memory and the more permanent HDD memory. One can last thru a reboot while the other is really fast. They compliment each other's weaknesses much how parts of our brain are. Each sense (periferal) seems to have its own kind of memory suited to process and store it.

I believe the prefrontal cortex handles most logic and decision making of those senses, while the hippocampus has been linked to emotion. It has been a year or two since I really studied the brain though, I may have swapped a few qualities, so please dont take all of this for fact.


abecker1313
Posted 14 July 2007 at 08:43 am

H.M. is one of the few people in this world that proves to us that ignorance is bliss. Sign me up for surgery. j/k.


onbelay1
Posted 16 August 2007 at 01:16 pm

Gadz said: "I can't believe no one has said this yet…


I wonder what would happen if they showed H.M. Memento?"

According to the article:
"In fact, from moment to moment Henry feels almost as though he has just awakened from a deep sleep, with the fleeting remnants of a dream always just beyond his grasp. Each experience, dull or dramatic, evaporates from his memory within a few dozen heartbeats and leaves no trace."

Well considering this, I doubt Henry will see Memonto as whole and realize it's point or purpose or even for the heck watching it. He would probably get through the first scene maybe before he forgets it and has to watch it again and forgets it and has to watch it again... it's an endless cycle and at this rate the end of the movie (or the second scene) would never come.


orc_jr
Posted 21 August 2007 at 12:14 am

Plank said: "Would you rather have anterograde amnesia or retrograde amnesia. So let's say you turn 40 and are involved in an accident that causes amnesia. Would you rather remember everything before the accident and not remember anything afterwards (anterograde, such as H.M.), or would you rather not remember your life before the accident and only remember things that happen afterwards (retrograde)?"

It seems that I am in the minority on this but I do believe that given a choice in the matter I would prefer to trade my memory of everything prior to the incident for the ability to retain new memories afterward. Forgetting people close to me would be truly tragic, but perhaps not permanent. There would always be the possibility to regain some of what was lost. In the case of anterograde amnesia I might be able to remember my young life as clearly as any other person, but I would be limited to that until the day I died. To me, that would be far more tragic.


weyman
Posted 15 September 2007 at 06:27 pm

I am the father of a 23 year old brain injured son. You can see a few short clips of him on youtube.com, by searching TBI Dustin once you are on the site.
I have followed all of the links I can for the past four years to seek some type of help for him. His mother sees him daily for at least 3-4 hours and I am with him whenever I can be. He is on the border of Texas and I am in California.
I have seen the specials on discovery science in Houston about the man who "woke up" after 20 years and was also in the same condition as Henry M., unable to lay down new memory, but could now talk. Of course his body had degenerated, probably beyond repair after being ambulatory for 20 years. It was amazing to see that this man had begun to speak. This was 2 years ago, it rekindled hope for my son.
I resigned as a teacher in Houston last Christmas to focus on him and doing something for him. I had arrived at the conclusion that physical therapy was the only answer. After 4 months of intense effort, and failure to find help for him, or to obtain a teaching job near him, I accepted a position in California to help out an old friend in the midst of selling her business.
This past month an article appeared about a successful surgery performed at the Cleveland Clinic which brought back the speech and swallowing capacity of a 38 year old man who apparently suffered a TBI similar to the degree of injury from which my son is suffering, (minimally conscious and severly disabled). The government has authorized 11 more surgeries for the Cleveland doctor to observe the outcome.
I hope my son will be one of these 11 patients, because in May of 06 he pulled his feed tube out of his stomach three times in one week and the doctors decided to leave it out. He lost 50 pounds over 5 months and now looks like an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor. I fear he will not survive much longer unless something drastic is done to help him, such as this surgery.
We don't care if he is unable to lay down new memory, a cure for that may come soon enough. The important thing is that he can communicate his needs so that we can improve his life and hopefully get him off of government support. For those of you familiar with brain injury, my son is stuck between Rancho Level 3 and 4. For serious therapy and assistance, you need to be at level 4 or above. Otherwise, you get parked in a care facility for "maintenance" until you die!
You can imagine the situation of seeing a healthy 18 year old become totally disabled in an instant. I spent 4 months with him after his accident and watched his progress. I was certain he was sufficiently recovering to warrant further effort, especially after seeing how he responded to a few hours of therapy in a day. Well, he didn't pass the test. He got parked and even though I supplied a tilt table for him, since I noticed that was the most positively stimulating, the government would not authorize its use and the care facility would not allow me to use it on him.
Through all of this ordeal, I made a pact with God, that if he would bring my son back sufficiently to pull a fish out of the water, I would work with my son to spend the rest of our lives motivating other young kids to listen to and obey their parents and stay away from behaviors which are most likely to cause this type of injury. Before my sons injury, I never imagined that this hell existed on earth and I feel strongly that all kids should be exposed to the possible consequences of misbehavior, especially with drugs and alcohol! My son is a living, example of consequences.


Anthropositor
Posted 08 April 2008 at 02:44 pm

Mr. Weyman,
My mother had a stroke in her early sixties. I was exceedingly frustrated by my inability to do much to improve the quality of her life other than to be with her as often as possible, and to absorb as much as I could learn about such injuries. Her stroke did not physically disable her. It scrambled her word order, making her talk rather confusing most of the time. Her sense of taste was also affected, making some of her favorite foods taste bad. Unfortunately her taste for tobacco was not altered. My mother had been a tobacco smoker since the Great Depression. She never did fully recover from the stroke, but had some years of a certain happiness and contentment anyway.

A few years after her death, my father had a stroke. Half of his body was paralyzed. My experience with my mother was helpful in my rehabilitative efforts with him in spite of the dissimilarity of the two strokes. My father too was addicted to a variety of substances, like tobacco and alcohol which made his rehabilitation more difficult.

A few years ago, I had a stroke which was virtually invisible in its' effects. It just made me stupid, leaving me just smart enough to realize how much mental acuity had evaporated. It was not lost on me, for instance, that some of my own long-standing behaviors could easily have played some role in my own injury.

But the legacy I was given by my parents and their injuries, at least partially self-induced, gave me the knowledge and experience to rehabilitate myself after my own stroke.

You are going through a terrible experience. You have shown, and are showing, strength and fortitude. Someday you will be my age. New and intractable problems will present themselves. At least partly because of your current anguish, you will be better prepared for your own battle for life.

If your son is ever able to feel joy, or a sense of triumph, or to laugh at something funny, cling to that blessing, and keep doing what you are doing. The best you can.


Since804
Posted 30 June 2008 at 03:04 am

My ex tested "moderately psychopathic"...go figure.


smiles are free
Posted 06 July 2008 at 10:01 am

That is truley DI, its amazing how our brains can be so selective about what we remember. It just makes me really glad that I have a memory.

xxx


a1c
Posted 06 August 2008 at 02:45 am

A former roommate's father was a state trooper, shot in the head during a routine stop by a scumbag somewhere in the Carolinas, exhibits the "50 first dates" anterograde amnesia from the relative discomfort of a nursing-care institution.


Rhode
Posted 05 December 2008 at 11:52 am

Sadly, Henry died this week. Rest in peace, Henry.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/05/us/05hm.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp


allduerespect88
Posted 06 December 2008 at 04:55 am

Egads man!

I wait all this time for a new artickle I can post first on, get all excited and it turns out this there is already 95 comments.. So... 96th!!!!


jonilynnb1
Posted 07 December 2008 at 01:58 am

My Brother suffers from this type, but not total short term memory loss. He was born perfectly normal, and all through school was well above average. When he was about 16 or so he began getting tumors on his arms and legs. Within a five or six years he had developed thousands. We found out later that he had nero fibro mitosis. As though this was not enough to deal with he had also been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, Polycythaemia, and at the age of 39 was told that he had 2 weeks if not less to live. When he started having memory problems. (like how to get home) the doctors did an MRI that appeared to show a large tumor that was reached into both sides of his brain, during the Craniotomy the doctor found that it was not a tumor after all. He had some form of what he could only describe as similar to vasculitis in his brain that had killed a large area of brain tissue. He has never really complained or let anything put him down. He is living as normal a life as possible.
This article hit very close to home for me. I just want everyone to know that even if your short term memory is gone, they are still aware that they have forgotten something, or can tell by your reaction that they are asking a question for the 2nd or 20th time. They are still embarrassed by the situation. Think of these people when you think you have it bad or feel sorry for yourself. Thanks


elphaba
Posted 07 December 2008 at 08:15 am

Rest in peace, HM. You will be missed.


voxpopulisuxx
Posted 07 December 2008 at 05:59 pm

ggnutsc said: "That's Damn interesting… I always thought that amnesia of this sort was product of Hollywood. It would certainly make for a different way of life…. You could eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and not get tired of it.

You would nver have to worry about jury duty. Even lovemaking would be a new experience every time…"

DI heres a small list of the possible positives (not to deminish this poor mans and others afflictions)
(feel free to add on everyone>>>)
Never Holding a grudge
no memory of embarrasing office party stunts


DamnAwesome
Posted 08 December 2008 at 12:20 am

10-second Tom, anyone?


Cheater
Posted 08 December 2008 at 09:43 am

I heard a podcast from radio lab about Clive Wearing, the musician that had this. He had it worse than this guy. He couldn't remember anything, but once they put him up on the conductors stand in front of a symphony & he conducted the entire suite. He put the baton down when he was done & then forgot about it. It's a pretty interesting phenom.


joeyk
Posted 08 December 2008 at 10:59 am

First


joeyk
Posted 08 December 2008 at 11:00 am

oh, sorry, slow reader!!!


ptjlmbaldwin
Posted 08 December 2008 at 11:19 am

One hundred and fourth!


Ard Ri
Posted 10 December 2008 at 07:25 am

voxpopulisuxx said: "DI heres a small list of the possible positives (not to deminish this poor mans and others afflictions)
(feel free to add on everyone>>>)
Never Holding a grudge
no memory of embarrasing office party stunts"

Unaccountable to God (for those who have this belief system), can't be held responsible for any wrong doing.


DIlla donuts
Posted 11 December 2008 at 02:19 am

I think it's so great that someone brought up Clive Wearing, amazing guy to read about. I thought that the book/concept of 'Musicophilia' was very damn interesting, same with the book "This is Your Brain on Music'. Both are very far from being the best books ever written, but if you have ever been curious about the brain, music, mantras, and so on, I am sure you will find them interesting as well.

On a side note, this is a pretty kick ass site! Pardon my crude terminology, but I'm excited! I just happened to google 'interesting' in hope of finding..well, something interesting, and it looks like I stumbled on a little goldmine of sorts right here. Still shocked by the site of intelligent commenting, I might have to step my grammatical game up a bit here. Yuck! Complete sentences, punctuation, wtf yall! no1 tlks lik dat ne more:)


MinskyBA
Posted 12 December 2008 at 07:51 am

So you've had writer shortages, hacking, and other troubles. Are you ever going to start posting new articles, or should I just stop visiting?


Jared Hunter
Posted 12 December 2008 at 12:34 pm

MinskyBA said: "So you've had writer shortages, hacking, and other troubles. Are you ever going to start posting new articles, or should I just stop visiting?"

Although new articles would be great. I still find the re-posting of old ones generally does spawn a lot of damn interesting debate that I love to read.


elphaba
Posted 12 December 2008 at 12:42 pm

voxpopulisuxx said: "DI heres a small list of the possible positives (not to deminish this poor mans and others afflictions)
(feel free to add on everyone>>>)
Never Holding a grudge
no memory of embarrasing office party stunts"

and no post-traumatic stress syndrome. that's the only one i can think of.


Wcoltd1988
Posted 12 December 2008 at 10:26 pm

I like the ending.


tomh
Posted 15 December 2008 at 07:03 am

Incredibly interesting! But I was left wondering for what reason was H.M. infamous? I didn't read anything to lead me to believe he had a bad reputation or had committed any evil deed.

Perhaps you mean 'famous'?

in-fa-mous
1. having an extremely bad reputation: an infamous city.
2. deserving of or causing an evil reputation; shamefully malign; detestable: an infamous deed.

fa-mous
1. having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated: a famous writer.


mercurial
Posted 16 December 2008 at 05:09 am

MinskyBA said: "So you've had writer shortages, hacking, and other troubles. Are you ever going to start posting new articles, or should I just stop visiting?"

*drags out soapbox*

Writing articles of the quality of those found here takes significant time and energy, both for research and actual composition of the article.

Nobody is obliged to make a donation to the site, and the site is free (also notice there are no advertisments, so not even any advertising money to offest bandwidth costs alone) and whilst it may surprise you, the authors here do actually have other commitments in their life. I am very grateful that they donate their time and energy, where possible, to give us such great content & provide us with an environment in which to discuss the articles.

Also, given the time and effort needed to produce quality articles, surely that is better to enjoy the status quo, than have a steady and abundant flow of articles of poor quality - if that is more to your likeing, there is no shortage of places for you to visit online.

If I recall correctly, suggestions for interesting topics are welcome, and anybody can write an article and submit it for publication here, subject to review by the admins, of course. If you've got some great ideas, why not contribute something?

Sorry if I come across as harsh, but it irks me when I see people verge upon being rude and demanding for new content, when all the time+energy invested in research, writing articles, maintaining the site, paying for bandwidth & of course fending off the Ruskies IS GIVEN TO US FOR FREE!

I'm hard pressed to think of places where you can PAY for a flow of such fascinating and diverse material.

Thanks to all the DI team!


braver13
Posted 16 December 2008 at 12:27 pm

Just because I'm ussually sure I've read every article on this site, but then end up finding one I haven't, is there any way to keep track of articles I have seen and then use the random feature to go to one I haven't been on? Cuz, man that'd be a great feature.

Thanks DI.


Ronald
Posted 16 December 2008 at 06:53 pm

The reason there are fewer damn interesting articles is because they are saving the new ones for the book


Viriato
Posted 17 December 2008 at 04:20 am

Hello DI people!

I've been reading this site for quite a while, and i noticed something funny about Mr. Allan Bellows (wich i thank, him and all the other writers that contribute to this enclave of knowledge and information, for countless hours of entertainment and amasement while i am at work and the boss isn't lurking arround). So, was it just me that noticed or Allan do uses the word "orgy" a lot more frequently than one normaly woud?
I mean, it always makes sence in the sentence and explains the context fully, but i recall exemples like "orgy of justice" (The PEPCOM Disaster) or an "orgy of bacteria" (No More Cavities). Those are associations i don't usualy do while talking about loyers and law related stuff, and much less associate it with bacteria! (exept if talking about std's, then it makes complete sense.) And i certainly don't think about that stuff when having an orgy! (here aplied in the full sence of the word!)
Anyway, bessides countless many outher things, i learned here that the word "orgy" can be aplied to describe much more than just the act of group mating! =P

My sincere best regards to the entire team and to most of the readers, excluding the short-dicked air-wasters that have to affirmate that they were the first to comment the article like if it was a race!

Viriato.


braver13
Posted 17 December 2008 at 11:29 am

ouch...
i thought the whole "first" comment thing was now like a DI tradition
least it is to me :P


Stead311
Posted 18 December 2008 at 02:40 pm

Does anyone remember the good ole days of Damn Interesting?!

The weeks would go by... with 3-4 articles created in that span.
People would give their input and would stand amazed at the brilliant work done by the FANTASTIC staff they have.

Things, I gather, have gone rather downhill as of late. I do not blame the staff... I mean, this isn't a full time job and it can be stressful even as a hobby. But I think that the Book (yet to be seen) has been more of a thorn of inaction; rather than a rose of knowledge.

I do not mean to sound trite and unforgiving. In fact, I look forward to the future of the site. But it is during times like these that the veterans of Damn Interesting can't help but recall better times.


sachse
Posted 19 December 2008 at 06:31 am

if we could get just a note letting us know whats going on...I don't think thats too much to ask...Happy Holidays DIers !


HalfAndHalf
Posted 19 December 2008 at 02:47 pm

I just tallied up the past 30 articles.

Perfect 50% repost rate (+/- 1 or 2).
Sucks.


MonkeyBones
Posted 20 December 2008 at 08:06 pm

Hi have an idea... Why don't we start our own damn interesting stories right here in the comment sections? We wouldn't have all the fancy pictures and such, but it could be just as interesting. Or, we could just all mass migrate to another "damn interesting" site which offers similar entertaining reading and keep the DI family of readers together. Its fun to read the stories, but its double the fun to read the comments. I don't see why we should stay dependent of DI and whine about the lack of stories. Lets go elsewhere! I am an accomplished web application developer, and if anyone is interested in my services, I could start a site similar as this one in no time. ( I am not a traitor, just a realist).


etienne
Posted 21 December 2008 at 02:26 pm

Long time lurker, first time poster.

Enjoyed the site innitially, but honestly the whole book thing signaled the beginning of the end for me. When people say 'All good things must come to an end", they are right, and this is it folks. The hacks, the deaths, the books, more excuses.

Honestly, I feel like several people here where everytime I click on the DI bookmark, it ends in disappointment, we were spoiled for a long time and now I find myself visiting less and less. I just don't want the disappointment anymore. So one day Ill return to find a re-invigorated site with fresh content (No ads? Who cares!! The articles could be lathered in google ads, blinking porn site ads, you name it, as long as there is NEW CONTENT)

Its been good sharing these great articles with you smart people but like others, ill have to move on for a while and hope things get sorted in the new year.

Goodbye,

Etienne


mercurial
Posted 22 December 2008 at 06:25 pm

Were he still alive, I guess HM would also be lucky enough to enjoy heaps of brand new DI articles every day! He could even wrap himself a few surprise Christmas presents...

Whilst people complaining about the lack of new articles irks me, as all time and effort put into this site is for free, it also is starting to irk me that I have had no feedback regarding my copy of the dead tree edition (DI Book) - it is fully appreciated that the delays in getting this to print were not anticipated, such can be the nature of publishing.

It was good to hear for a while that the reason for lack of articles was due to finalising the book, but to have heard nothing about it since then is a bit disappointing.

Am I the only person who feels this way?


adastra
Posted 24 December 2008 at 09:14 am

"I am an accomplished web application developer, and if anyone is interested in my services, I could start a site similar as this one in no time."
Monkey Bones - that's a great idea. I'm willing to do one article on spec. I'm thinking of an article that tries to make it clear what's so DI about quantum physics, without a lot of, to the average person, math and mumbo jumbo. Not attempting to explain it, just what is interesting about it.
I suspect we'll find it more difficult to do than is apparent at first glance.

Anyway, here's my "throw down" email address: rickholcomb@hotmail.com


pyruvi
Posted 29 December 2008 at 12:56 am

Maybe instead of trying to start a new site, why not go ahead and write the articles and submit them to this one? No point in reinventing the wheel when we've already got the car.


polossatik
Posted 30 December 2008 at 01:45 pm

Looks like they lost the keys to this car....


atonyt
Posted 31 December 2008 at 07:03 am

Guys, I know the articles are not being posted in a timely manner, but give these people a break. They do this in their spare time. Spare time. They have other lives and are entitled to enjoy the holidays. If you want to start another forum, good for you.

I will wait patiently for a new article and appreciate the quality of the past ones posted. Everyone is entitled to a little R&R.


trucker743
Posted 31 December 2008 at 09:01 pm

I for one am willing to wait "until hell freezes over" for the next offering on THIS site. This fellow and his contributors have worked hard to present material that I for one did not even suspect existed in some cases. I like their style, too.


sir.xerces
Posted 02 January 2009 at 03:53 pm

trucker743 said: "I for one am willing to wait "until hell freezes over" for the next offering on THIS site. This fellow and his contributors have worked hard to present material that I for one did not even suspect existed in some cases. I like their style, too."

Agreed.


allduerespect88
Posted 02 January 2009 at 04:26 pm

I just think that every topic that could be construed as Damn Interesting has already been written about. Just look at the back catalog of this site (which I am currently about half way through). When I first discovered this site I had some idea's of DI articles to write... but no they've all already been written about.


Toolfan955
Posted 03 January 2009 at 03:59 am

I only discovered this site in October and feel bad that I missed the site's heyday. But I don't understand why they don't at least pull up archived articles on a regular basis for those of us who might have missed them. It would be much better than dropping off the map for weeks at a time.

If they are in a period in which they are unable to provide new content that's fine. But why not try and use some of the content they've already produced to at least make it seem like the site is still alive?


allduerespect88
Posted 05 January 2009 at 09:48 pm

I believe that's what they did with this article


dismalscience
Posted 06 January 2009 at 12:32 am

Try using the random article link. It's like a new article every time.


drewski_brewski
Posted 06 January 2009 at 01:44 pm

to allduerespect88

allduerespect88 said: "I just think that every topic that could be construed as Damn Interesting has already been written about. Just look at the back catalog of this site (which I am currently about half way through). When I first discovered this site I had some idea's of DI articles to write… but no they've all already been written about."

I disagree. I have submitted several ideas for stories that have not been told here (as far as I could tell by keyword searching). I beleive them to be Damn Interesting, and worthy of posting, and I'm not enough of a wordsmith to process them into DI quality myself. I also doubt that my submissions were 'harvested" for the book, based on when they were submitted. (though that would be thrilling!)

I do appreciate all the wonderful work that the DI team has done thus far. Keep us posted!


overcaffein8d
Posted 06 January 2009 at 06:12 pm

on this story, everyone's a first commenter!


Toolfan955
Posted 06 January 2009 at 11:12 pm

allduerespect88 said: "I believe that's what they did with this article"

But it's not on a regular basis. They might toss up an archived story after two weeks, then maybe after one week, and now it's been over a month. If they intent to keep the site going they should handle it as if it's "business as usual". If it's a complicated time for the site then archives are fine, at least it shows activity. But this site is beginning to look pretty dead.


ChrisW75
Posted 07 January 2009 at 03:27 pm

If you can't wait for the book, and can't wait for the next update, I just found this book on Amazon...
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0571233686/ref=sib_rdr_dp

I hope that the DI crew are able to resume the usual fantastic service soon. And Happy NEw Year everyone!


markda1
Posted 07 January 2009 at 05:55 pm

I too found this site interesting enough to "favorite" on Firefox but have been disappointed of late that updates are few and far between. I agree, however, that the owners of the site are under no obligation to provide new content. I would also agree that running archive stories would be better than nothing at all. Hey, everyone's got lives, you know?


Christopher S. Putnam
Posted 08 January 2009 at 10:22 pm

So, was it just me that noticed or Allan do uses the word "orgy" a lot more frequently than one normaly woud?
I mean, it always makes sence in the sentence and explains the context fully, but i recall exemples like "orgy of justice" (The PEPCOM Disaster) or an "orgy of bacteria" (No More Cavities). Those are associations i don't usualy do while talking about loyers and law related stuff, and much less associate it with bacteria!

That was excellent. I hope Alan saw this. Couple more of these and we've got ourselves an orgy of orgy metaphors.


tednugentkicksass
Posted 09 January 2009 at 08:17 pm

Good news, I suppose. I managed to find the Damn Interesting book on Amazon. It's currently ranked #774,778, astoundingly only 774,772 places behind that literary wonder known as "Twilight" (better known as "Drivel")

ISBN-10: 0761152253
ISBN-13: 978-0761152255

http://www.amazon.com/Alien-Hand-Syndrome-Alan-Bellows/dp/0761152253/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231555871&sr=8-1

It's not available yet, but the fact that you can pre-order it has to mean something. The publisher's online catalog indicates that it ships in April. I think it will be released May 20th.

Oh, and if anybody is worrying that Alan might have died, my Google search for "Alan Bellows, obituaries" didn't reveal anything to me. So he probably hasn't.


allduerespect88
Posted 10 January 2009 at 12:03 am

Im mega keen for that book... D0 amazon ship worldwide? I live in New Zealand


drewd
Posted 13 January 2009 at 03:02 pm

RIP DI - It was fun while it lasted.


sachse
Posted 13 January 2009 at 03:41 pm

Yes, its getting pretty bad when you click on the site just to see if there is a new "comment"...let alone a new article...(sniff sniff..sob)


nonsequitur
Posted 13 January 2009 at 06:25 pm

See here's the deal...

Alan figured out a way to put a realistic moving background into a web page
( http://www.alanbellows.com/ ). However, he needed to get this info to himself 5 years ago, so he and Jason designed a time machine. The principle is very basic, so basic you probably would have thought of it as well, if you had the need and a box of Cheerios laying around, so I wont bore you with the specifics. Suffice it to say, the "capsule" would require a circular tube 12 feet in diameter by 131.88 kilometers in circumference (42 X 3.14( your welcome rev.felix))aligned parrallel to the equator, in which to travel opposite the earth's rotation. The "capsule" would be propelled by ice water circulated thru the tube at high preasure by a giant natural gas turbine. The only problems for Alan and Jason involved everything needed. Alan went to Radiatidon (you have noticed that he hasn't posted for a while now...hmmmmm) for advice. Unfortunately, members of the not so former KGB had Radiatidon's house bugged. The Kremlin decided they needed the time "capsule" to go back in time to give communism a fighting chance, so inlisting the Chicago Mafia thru their intermediary Blagojevich, those crummy commies kidnapped Alan, Jason, and THE Don and took them to Antartica. Where it is possible to build a 12 foot diameter tube with a circuference of 131.88 kilometers parrallel to the equator, filling it full of ice water from that underground lake they tapped into, and by painting it white nobody would ever know it was there.
Now I know you are asking how will they ever power the damn thing.......Do you remember that last week the Ruskies shut off the supply of natural gas to Europe? Makes you wonder....

Ok I am reallllllllllllllly bored.

oh yeah............Dung Beetles........


braver13
Posted 14 January 2009 at 08:11 am

LOL


Radiatidon
Posted 14 January 2009 at 09:44 am

nonsequitur January 13th, 2009 6:25 pm
In response to

nonsequitur said:
See here's the deal…
The principle is very basic, so basic you probably would have thought of it as well, if you had the need and a box of Cheerios laying around, so I wont bore you with the specifics.

Sorry to correct you on this, but everyone knows that Cheetos is a better brain tap than Cheerios.

Suffice it to say, the "capsule" would require a circular tube 12 feet in diameter by 131.88 kilometers in circumference (42 X 3.14( your welcome rev.felix))aligned parrallel to the equator, in which to travel opposite the earth's rotation. The "capsule" would be propelled by ice water circulated thru the tube at high preasure by a giant natural gas turbine.

True, but you forgot the nitty-gitty of inducing a time-slip. Otherwise a virtual road called a time-stream.

You need to realize that in order to create a stable time-stream one must first stabilize the Quantum-point index. Otherwise your exact starting location in time and space. This acts as an anchor and/or reference point so that you don’t become “lost” in the morass dimensional flux of time and space. Once stabilized this will allow you to retune oneself to the now and here. Simple right?

In order to do this, an ultracold atomic gas needs to be injected into a closed pumped optical resonator and compressed by the potential induced by the cavity-field spatial mode structure. The “sweet-point” is created when the potential of the atomic distribution induces an refractive index of the medium adjusting the intracavity-field amplitude. Using the Bose-Hubbard model we can stabilize our QI index when our gas enters the Mott-insulator crossover state between super fluid quantum states.

Next we need to create a supersymmetric fuzzy sphere as discussed by the Berenstein-Maldacen-Natase (BSA) matrix model. This in effect corresponds to a giant graviton, which is required to “punch” a temporal hole to allow us to travel from the here-and-now to the if-and-when. “Here” being our geological starting point in space, “Now” our departure time to the pico second, “If” being any of the possible states of matter otherwise commonly referred to as “Other Dimensions”, and “When” meaning some other time, be it future or past.

Got all that? Yes, yes – very simple indeed.

Once our time vessel is induced into the dimensional ether flux continuous calculations of mu ->0 must be maintained to be sure the oscillating gravitons that now surround our ship in order to maintain balance lest they overexcite into supergravitons. We all know what would happen if that would occur. Quack, quack – LOL. Sorry I could not let that old joke pass by. ;)

Unfortunately, members of the not so former KGB had Radiatidon's house bugged.

Aha, I suspected that the KGB http://www.kgb.com/ were tapping me for my knowledge.

The Kremlin decided they needed the time "capsule" to go back in time to give communism a fighting chance, so inlisting the Chicago Mafia thru their intermediary Blagojevich, those crummy commies kidnapped Alan, Jason, and THE Don and took them to Antartica.

I suppose you are wondering how I escaped. When the foul beasties grabbed me, I made sure my big toe was outside the car trunk (the auto’s boot) when they close the lid on me. This insured that it was snapped off, allowing it to remain behind. My trained duck found it and took it to my genetically enhanced leopard llama. With her advanced and redesigned brain, she deduced my predicament and called the collies into my superiorly advanced laboratory – lab for short.

These highly skilled, trained, and genetically enhanced animal friends of mine cloned another me from the toe...

Ah yes, the toe - what major problems over the ownership of that toe created...

Uh - sorry, that my friends is another story.

Anyway, the other me then formulated a plan to rescue Alan, Jason, and original me from the evil and misguided Reds…


oh yeah…………Dung Beetles……..

Now wait a minute here, how did you know about the Dung Beetles? I see now, it is all so clear. You my vile friend, you are KGB.

End of line…

Transmission lost, quantum instability of wormhole caused by unknown interference.


tdwMighty
Posted 15 January 2009 at 12:11 am

DamnInteresting used to be my favorite website. But it is never updated anymore, so I started a similar site to post interesting stories on until we get some new content here. Right now I've just reposted a few random wikipedia articles to get the ball rolling, and I will never be able to match the quality of this site. Anyways, the site is http://www.mightyinteresting.com and it would be great if the readers of this great site could contribute some articles.

I hope the book comes out soon so we can get some new articles here! I miss it...


Lurial
Posted 15 January 2009 at 10:41 am

god this story has been front page forever, this sites starting to get stail


braver13
Posted 15 January 2009 at 02:22 pm

TheDON, your comments are always almost as fun as reading the articles.
All those in favour of hearing the rest of his story?


Mjolnir
Posted 15 January 2009 at 03:29 pm

I love Radiatidon's posts. I vote for more!

Now if he would just tell me how to reverse the polarity of a neutron beam....


nonsequitur
Posted 15 January 2009 at 05:10 pm

See Don, I was actually envisioning Alan and a the world's largest swirly....

oh yeah.........cavorting lumoxes


ChrisW75
Posted 15 January 2009 at 05:17 pm

allduerespect88 said: "Im mega keen for that book… D0 amazon ship worldwide? I live in New Zealand"

Yes, Amazon ship worldwide. I use the UK site to get stuff shipped to Oz frequently. It's worth checking out the delivery prices for both the .com and .co.uk sites. I generally find I get reamed by US sites for delivery to Australia (I wanted to buy the Despair.com calendar and was going to be charged more for delivery than the cost of the calendar, something like $20).


nonsequitur
Posted 15 January 2009 at 05:40 pm

Radiatidon said: "nonsequitur January 13th, 2009 6:25 pm
In response to

Sorry to correct you on this, but everyone knows that Cheetos is a better brain tap than Cheerios.

Don
I believe you were refering to Pringles Salt and Vinegar, they promote strenuous
thinking, as they cause your face to involuntarily scrunch up, freeing up mental resources for information processing tasks.

I was using Cheerios as a post-modern, universally applicable (to the universe), quantum singularity/ blackhole, darwinian metaphoric B-slap to the face of Newton's Razor. HA!

I think I injured by temporal lobe......

At any rate (186000 mps is preferred), THANK YOU! Your post is at least, as entertaining as any DI article to date. Boredom-Be-Gone!

Take an ATTABOY out of petty cash.

oh yeah............past participles


nonsequitur
Posted 15 January 2009 at 05:41 pm

YeeeeGODSSssssss, I've quoted myself....


nonsequitur
Posted 15 January 2009 at 05:43 pm

BTW, what was the article about.......I've forgotten


nonsequitur
Posted 15 January 2009 at 05:56 pm

It's kinda like that thing where you hold up a mirror in front of another mirror an produce an infinity effect....ya know, a optical delusion....

oh yeah.....fallopian tubes


MonkeyBones
Posted 15 January 2009 at 07:22 pm

Imperative panic, leading us astray, to fling about everything and building science to make our way. Zero divided by zero, refracting off the fractal wavelets of light, bathes the wings of gravitons and all the infinite forces that hide behind. Glands, brains and hearts secrete, process and pump, orchestrated by a common effort to thrive. But the tangent of complete understanding stands high in our mind's eye, unattainable like the summit of Everest on a stormy day; its peak hidden from all within a thundercloud's overlay.


MonkeyBones
Posted 15 January 2009 at 07:22 pm

Imperative panic, leading us astray, to fling about everything and building science to make our way. Zero divided by zero, refracting off the fractal wavelets of light, bathes the wings of gravitons and all the infinite forces that hide behind. Glands, brains and hearts secrete, process and pump, orchestrated by a common effort to thrive. But the tangent of complete understanding stands high in our mind's eye, unattainable like the summit of Everest on a stormy day; its peak hidden from all within a thundercloud's overlay.


oldmancoyote
Posted 15 January 2009 at 07:41 pm

fallopians...Those are books in the bible, silly. You know, first fallopians, second fallopians.


oldmancoyote
Posted 15 January 2009 at 07:58 pm

BTW, Don, would it not be better to use cheese puffs of the same mass? The lower density would allow brain waves to pass through. Wouldn't the high density cheetos tend to block them?


wperwin
Posted 15 January 2009 at 08:00 pm

Yes, everyone can take time off, and I certainly realize that this site is simply a hobby, but the situation would be somewhat different if they were in fact recruiting or even accepting new authors.

The verve for this website has flowered
from the seed that it was years ago,
but winter exposes the frailty of roses,
parched petals entombed in the snow.


Radiatidon
Posted 16 January 2009 at 10:10 am

oldmancoyote said: "BTW, Don, would it not be better to use cheese puffs of the same mass? The lower density would allow brain waves to pass through. Wouldn't the high density cheetos tend to block them?"

Yessssss!

Upon reading oldmancoyote's post The Don dances a wild jig. His bandaged left foot throws him off balance as does the missing big toe.

Seeing this strange sight the collies look at each other with a worried glance, unsure what to think with their highly evolved brains. The llamas only shake their heads at the Don's antics and return to manipulating the cosmic thread that The Don had plucked from the seat of his trousers. It must have lodged there after the incident when the flux emitter suffered a quantum "hiccup" momentarily transforming the time-slip-ship into a French cream puff and Ed the duck into a hockey puck. Poor Ed still suffers night-sweats over that... Anyway, perhaps one could understand the difference in attitude between the animals since dogs have a loyal, if not family attachment to the balding old man. Whereas the llamas only put up with him since The Don loves to spoil them with their favorite treat - apples.

Cheese balls, it seems my recent foray into the past has resulted in a most victorious accomplishment. No one but I will know this, so I share it now. Recently I had a conversation with Cheester about his vile Cheese Squares. As to how unpleasant those sharp corners were to one's palate. How a round cheese ball would be ever so much a grand achievement over such. With Oldmancoyote's comment I see that it was a success. ;)

In response to your question, I find that the puffs stay in the ear much better than say the ball. Also the puff is a much better antenna to receiving brain waves (same size as the gamma wave you see) and increasing the mental computing capacity 3-fold. Of course the non-puff, crunchy Cheetos are fantastic alpha receivers, but I find the gamma waves more soothing on the cerebellum.

Now if you will excuse me, there is this simple matter about the ownership of a certain toe...

The Don

I don't know about you, but as the narrator I am starting to worry about a certain someone's mental state, if you get my grist.


bigtuaz
Posted 23 January 2009 at 09:20 pm

"Over the years a modest amount of semantic information has actually managed to seep into Henry's long-term memory, suggesting that his brain may be struggling to find alternate pathways with sporadic success."

If the human brain is capable of "self-repair" in the way mentioned above, maybe there is a way to accelerate and expand the process. Maybe in the future, one can have surgery to expand the capacity and efficiency of their memory potential. At least, semantic memory.


bussinessmouse
Posted 07 February 2009 at 07:32 am

spam deleted


kantastisk
Posted 27 March 2009 at 02:40 am

"Got you that time!"

didn't it occur to anyone that he shouldn't know there were several 'times' either?


alex212
Posted 27 March 2009 at 01:15 pm

A human brain is a structure unique in all aspects, furthermore, it is a question still unanswered. We use only 2% of it's capacities. The rest is left in the darkness of the unconscious. Here ends our knowledge. But a brain, even an animal one, has all the necessary capacities of a radar. Some people use it to plug into the information fields of the universe. This explanes such phenomenon as fortune-telling, et c. Suppose it is sensitive to ultrasonic, infra- red and electromagnetic irradiation. Then it could be remotedly operated like any system with a radar. Just push the delete button :)))


alex212
Posted 28 March 2009 at 09:39 am

Some of our archives have been looked through and here's what I found: fighter pilots report to their superiors numerous cases of contacts with UFO pilots.
Among other things they report this:
When they approached to contact and in close proximity the electronic systems of their machines began to malfunction, high vibration.
Strong telepathic and hypnotic interference.
If we can receive all these sygnals what is the humanly transparent method?
And if we can receive can we send? What do you think?


Silverhill
Posted 30 March 2009 at 03:56 pm

alex212 said: "A human brain is a structure unique in all aspects,"
Nope. There are strong similarities to most mammalian brains, those of the great apes especially. What we have is more, in some as-yet-poorly-understood way, of certain capacities and functions. Some of our aspects are indeed unique, but certainly not all.

"We use only 2% of it's capacities."
This sounds like a mis-quoting of a commonly stated, but erroneous, claim (that we "only use 10%" of the brain). This has been discredited since we've learned much more about what goes on between our ears. The brain is used essentially 100% of the time, but different areas get different amounts of emphasis, depending on whether we're active, resting, sleeping, etc.
P.S. the word you wanted there is its, not it's.

"...a brain, even an animal one, has all the necessary capacities of a radar."
Perhaps you are thinking of echolocators, such as bats and dolphins? That's sonar. No animal can use radar, since none can generate and/or perceive RF [radio-frequency] radiation.

"Some people use it to plug into the information fields of the universe."
Define this "information field" notion, please. On the surface it sounds like technobabble/bafflegab/gobbledygook.

"Suppose [the human brain] is sensitive to ultrasonic, infra- red and electromagnetic irradiation."
Ultrasonic waves are, by definition, imperceptible to us. Infrared radiation (not, here, "irradiation")
is electromagnetic radiation. You need some basic science coursework, sir/ma'am. Go do that--then come back and show us some (damn) interesting things based on real knowledge, not inadequately formed imagination.


Anthropositor
Posted 05 April 2009 at 08:03 pm

Due to blindness, I haven't been around lately. Now that I am a cyborg, I have noticed that my memory is not as good as when I was blind. I literally had to remember the locations of things. Now that I see with crystal clarity, I no longer remember locations of things anywhere near as efficiently, simply because I can look around for them now.

I have always been monocular due to crossed eyes. My left eye was dominant. In the operations, I opted for right eye dominance, making it my close-up eye. The left eye became my medium to distance eye. I videotaped the operations on each eye after a rather protracted battle with the hospital. It was a matter of "risk management" from their perspective. My lawyer didn't think I had a chance of winning the battle. So I didn't use him in the matter. One of my sons came down on the side of the hospital just as I was beginning the fight. (Not the same son who fragged me here last year.) Oddly, I won the battle with the hospital in about a week or ten days. One never knows for sure where the next battle will arise.

I have noticed that my perception of reading material has subtly changed with my new eyes, because the right eye, for the first time in my life is the reading eye.

I have been off the internet for maybe five months I guess, not just from the blindness, but because my dial-up modem fried. I'm just getting fired up again on a borrowed laptop in a cyber cafe. Now I'm working on ways of forgetting petty annoyances. Forgetting can be useful. The key is in being in charge of what one forgets.


Silverhill
Posted 06 April 2009 at 06:57 pm

Let's see if I can undo the lingering boldface effect, left over from a typo of mine...


Silverhill
Posted 06 April 2009 at 06:58 pm

hmmm


Silverhill
Posted 06 April 2009 at 06:58 pm

Silverhill
Posted 06 April 2009 at 06:58 pm

OK now?


Ronald
Posted 16 April 2009 at 07:10 am

So this is what the sites been reduced too eh? Fair enough, bookmark delete


mjunk
Posted 28 April 2009 at 01:04 pm

DI, Don. Way to keep the Damn Dream alive!!!


Mjolnir
Posted 16 June 2009 at 05:19 pm

Earth calling Allan Bellows. Do you read us? Over.....


JeramieH
Posted 04 December 2009 at 03:36 pm

CNN reporting that they're dissecting his brain with a live webcam view:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/12/03/brain.observatory.h.m.amnesia/index.html


ptesaurusiris
Posted 22 July 2010 at 01:20 pm

Damn primitive 'hacking'


ptesaurusiris
Posted 22 July 2010 at 01:40 pm

alex212 said: "Some of our archives have been looked through and here’s what I found: fighter pilots report to their superiors numerous cases of contacts with UFO pilots.
Among other things they report this:
When they approached to contact and in close proximity the electronic systems of their machines began to malfunction, high vibration.
Strong telepathic and hypnotic interference.
If we can receive all these sygnals what is the humanly transparent method?
And if we can receive can we send? What do you think?"

On point. So true and so natural. It's just about energy levels. Flagged *Blue


ptesaurusiris
Posted 22 July 2010 at 01:49 pm

Humans can transmit and receive radio waves


Harrison
Posted 16 September 2010 at 10:40 pm

Dublin said: "Did I just read something?

DI"

That's a funny one! haha


END OF COMMENTS
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