The World’s Most Famous Brain

In the summer of 1953, Henry Gustav Molaison (1926-2008) underwent brain surgery to contain epileptic seizures that had become critically debilitating. The intervention brought some relief from convulsions, but these positive results were overshadowed by an astonishing and indelible side effect. Soon after the operation, it became apparent that he could no longer recognize hospital staff, he did not remember the way home, he did not remember newspaper articles he had just read, nor the crossword puzzles he had solved; otherwise, he was completely normal. Since the time of the surgery, more than five decades of scrupulous neuropsychological research examined the nature of patient H.M.’s amnesia which proved to be both persistent and remarkably selective.

The goal of our project is to provide a window into the brain of the man who helped establish the scientific study of memory and unfailingly forgot the enormously generous contribution he made to medical research.