Neuropsychological Case Studies of Henry Molaison and Clive Wearing Essay Sample
This essay sample is written on the two famous case studies of Henry Molaison’s neuropsychological condition and Clive Wearing which also includes observations made by the various neuroscientists on their cases.
Neuropsychology is a branch of psychological studies which is concerned with the cognition and behavior of a person, functions of the brain and nervous system. In clinical psychology, the aim is to understand that how behavior and cognition are influenced by brain function.
This includes a proper diagnose and treatment of neurological disorders. While in classical neurology the focus is on the pathology of the nervous system. It is a branch that helps to understand the correlation between brain and mind in neurological patients.
This essay sample is a case study of two neuropsychological cases of two patients called Henry Molaison and Clive Wearing.
Case Study of Henry Molaison
In September 1953, Henry Molaison had been suffering from severe seizures for the past decade. It was very difficult for him to be able to continue his job as he lost his ability to function.
The surgeons removed a section of tissue from both sides of his brain. After the procedure of surgery, the condition of seizure got worst leaving Molaison with permanent amnesia.
Molaison had memories related to his childhood, parents, and other memories of the past experiences but couldn’t form any memories of his recent experiences. His case was unique leading to the turning point in the study of neurology science and the complex function of the brain.
Neuroscientists such as William Beecher Scoville and Brenda Milner in the year 1955 started studying the brain of Molaison and patients who have undergone similar brain surgery. As the brain tissue was removed it caused more severe memory impairment.
Observations of Henry Molaison’s Case
It was observed and learned through the various observations by Scoville and Milner that the medial temporal lobe with a specifically defined structure was required to retain the memory of a person and this is known as the hippocampus.
The neuroscientists who studied the brain of Molaison claimed that the hippocampus and its surrounding regions are important for transiting perceptions and awareness into lifetime memories.
Molaison was not experiencing this transition of perception and knowledge into memories and rather felt that every day was a new experience. He had no rigid memories of even simple acts of having a meal and going for a walk etc. It felt like the first time that he did these daily tasks.
His intellectual personality remains the same helping him to acquire new motor skills. Repetitions of the tasks helped him to remember tasks.
A study of his neurological case helped the scientists to explore the brain networks which hold the memories. After the death of Molaison at the age of 82 the neuroscientists continued to learn from this case.
Case Study of Clive Wearing
Clive Wearing was born on 11th May 1938 who was known to be an accomplished musician and a professional tenor at Westminster Cathedral. On 27th March 1985, he got in touch with a virus that directly attacked his central nervous system creating infection in the brain.
This rare neurological condition was called herpes encephalitis causing irreparable damage to the hippocampus of Clive.
Hippocampus is a brain tissue as mentioned in the previous case of Molaison which is responsible for long-term memory in people. As a result of such damage, he started suffering from the condition of anterograde and retrograde amnesia which made him lose not only his past memories but also restricted him to make any new memories.
Observations of Clive Wearing’s Case
Clive Wearing had the rare condition of dual retrograde and anterograde amnesia which is a total amnesia condition and is considered to be the extreme case of memory loss. After his case, any such similar condition came to be known as “30 second Clive”.
People with this condition of anterograde amnesia cannot make new memories after certain incidents fail to recall their past and to retrieve information. Clive was known to have a memory of just 7 to 30 seconds and could easily forget the tasks.
He could not read books and watch movies as his memories just stayed for few seconds. He was in a constant state of coma whenever he woke up from a sleep boosting his consciousness after every thirty seconds.
Retrograde amnesia is the lost memories that are connected to the past experiences of a person’s life. Clive didn’t remember anything from his entire life. He remembered his children from the previous marriage and his musical profession but had no account of memories related to them.
Clive had a second wife, Deborah whom he recognized but had no memories of her in his brain. For him, his every meeting with her was the first meeting. He had emotion but no episodic memory.
Clive had semantic memory which is the knowledge about facts or general things. His procedure memory remained unchanged in his brain. He could learn new skills with the help of repetitive tasks, words, or sentences.
He had perfect musical memory and was very much capable of reading and playing music but after few minutes he had no memories of his performance.
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The above-written essay sample is a case study on the neurological condition of two patients called Henry Molaison and Clive Wearing.
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