A recent article in the U.S. News states that brain injury may not erase long-term memory. There’s ongoing debate about whether long term memory is always dependent on the medial temporal lobe, which contains the memory-processing center called the hippocampus. A study conducted by at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, supports the theory that vey long-term remote memory remains intact, even after damage to this lobe.
The study was led by Larry R. Squire, a professor of psychiatry, neurosciences and psychology. His team used a method called the Autobiographic Interview to examine the ability of five people with selective brain damage to recall events from their past. Three patients had limited damage to the hippocampus, and two had large medial temporal lobe lesions.
The researchers used extensive interviewing to get patients to provide 50 or more details of one memory from each of five periods in their lives: childhood, teen years, early adulthood, middle age and the year immediately before testing.
The results showed “that autobiographical recollection was impaired in patients with medial temporal damage when memories were drawn from the recent past, but fully intact when memories came from the remote past,” Squire said.
The study appears in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.