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Remembering H.M.

Henry Moliason (H.M.)

Henry Moliason (H.M.)

On December 5, Henry Gustav Molaison died in a Windsor Locks, Connecticut nursing home at age 82. At the age of 27, Mr. Molaison had experimental surgery for epilepsy. After the surgery, Mr. Molaison was never again able to lay down long-term memories.

He knew his name. That much he could remember.

He knew that his father’s family came from Thibodaux, La., and his mother was from Ireland, and he knew about the 1929 stock market crash and World War II and life in the 1940s.

But he could remember almost nothing after that.

Mr. Molaison was internationally famous as one of the most intensively studied psychological subjects ever–known by the initials H.M. Through research with H.M., knowledge of human memory has been revolutionized. What was a terrible tragedy in the life of this man made it possible for psychologists to gain invaluable insights into the role of the brain in memory, learning, and personality. He was the subject hundreds of studies by numerous researchers over the course of five decades. Continue reading