New Books Network

Suzanne Corkin

Permanent Present Tense

The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesia Patient, H.M.

Basic Books 2013

New Books in MedicineNew Books in PsychologyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network May 31, 2013 Debbie Sorensen

If you have studied neuroscience, memory, or even basic psychology, it is likely that you have heard of the famous amnesic patient Henry Molaison,...

If you have studied neuroscience, memory, or even basic psychology, it is likely that you have heard of the famous amnesic patient Henry Molaison, or “H.M.” as he was known during his lifetime. In 1953, Henry underwent an experimental brain surgery in hopes of finding a cure for his severe epilepsy. As a result, he developed a severe case of amnesia. Unable to encode new memories into long-term storage, Henry lived constantly in the present, unable to recall events that had happened even minutes before. In the 55 years between the surgery and his death in 2008, Henry became the most famous and comprehensively studied patient in neuroscience. Decades of research on Henry’s cognitive abilities provided a lasting contribution to neuroscience, and research on his postmortem brain is continuing into the future. Perhaps no one knew the case of H.M. better than Dr. Suzanne Corkin. In this interview, Dr. Corkin will discuss her new book, Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient, H.M. (Basic Books, 2013) Her decades of research with Henry provided a major contribution to our understanding of various systems of memory and the brain, and the book tells the incredible tale of Henry the person, “H.M.” the willing research participant, and the complexity of human memory.