Numerous psychological studies have been done over the subject of the effects of accidental head trauma leading to various memory problems such as memory loss. These studies ranging from the very mild to the extremely severe brain traumas cases and has various effects on memory whether it is short term of long term memory problems and loss. This paper is going to more specifically cover vehicular accidents that involved head trauma leading to memory loss and other various memory problems.
Memory loss can very well vary extremely from individual to individual due to the fact that traumas can affect different areas of the brain and to different intensities. Short term memory loss for one individual can be defined as losing all recollection of events just mere seconds after they have occurred, to not remembering the day’s events once they go to sleep at night for another.
For example in the Columbia Pictures motion picture 50 First Dates Drew Barrymore’s character Lucy suffered some severe brain trauma from a motor vehicle collision causing her to acquire severe short term memory loss and forget everything that has happened including the crash on, so every morning when she wakes up she goes throughout her day exactly as she did the day before continuously thinking it is the same exact day over and over again day after day. (Girraputo, Golin, & Juvonen 2004).
Some short term memory problems have been to proven to progressively get better in individuals and can even eventually go away completely over an extended period of time in others lucky ones depending on the initial severity. In a case covered in the Transient global amnesia triggered by mild head injury article a young woman after being involved in a car accident was beginning to show signs of short term memory loss due to the collision. (Venneri, Brazzelli, & Della Sala, 1998). This was very closely related to the situation that Drew Barrymore’s character Lucy went through in the motion picture 50 First Dates.
This quote from the article shares the similar effects that Lucy possesses in the film after her car accident. “During her stay in the emergency room, E. R. (the effected patient) was not able to recognize the neurologist who was monitoring her every 30 minutes, although she immediately recognized her sister and could remember her outfit the following morning. ”(Venneri, Brazzelli, & Della Sala, 1998, p. 606). While Lucy’s character in the movie could remember events that had occurred throughout the course of the same day, she forgot all of it every night once she had fallen asleep.
She could remember all her memories prior to the accident, but had no recollection of the accident itself and had no idea of her memory problem. Like Lucy’s character the patient from the article “had preserved personal identity with a good recollection of past autobiographical events. ” (Venneri, Brazzelli, & Della Sala, 1998, p. 606). This article also states that many long lasting memory disorders are frequently found in patients with head injuries. Human memory is dependent upon numerous amounts of very delicate structures and various mechanisms that even a relatively small amount of head trauma can disturb. Post-traumatic amnesia is a typical outcome after head injury where, for a period of time, information about ongoing events is not stored. ” (Albensi, & Janigro, 2003, p. 655).
This quote from the article covering the effects of traumatic brain injury on synaptic plasticity puts what is going on with Lucy in the motion picture in simple straight forward terms. The effects of trauma are complex and are often dependent on time and on the region. In experimental cases it has been shown that even a single episode of closed head trauma can induce long-lasting alterations in areas of the brain such as the hippocampus. ” (Albensi, & Janigro, 2003, p. 657). Like in 50 First Dates Lucy’s condition was brought on by a closed head trauma and suffered from the long-lasting effects of the alterations to her brains chemistry and structure. Lucy’s Memory problem causes it to be hard to develop new relationships with people who she was not familiar with prior to her car accident. This article discusses that a number of animal models have been tested with the effects of traumatic brain injuries.
Scientists often use rodents for these tests some of these models are clinically more relevant than others due to the fact that some are way to variable in nature while other which are much more uniform often have very limited resemblance to humans. (Albensi, & Janigro, 2003, p. 653). Traumatic brain injuries disrupt some of the many factors of human homeostasis. For example synaptic depression which in simple terms is the possible loss of neurons and/or hyper excitability. “In fact, trauma-induced seizure activity is a condition that affects a rather large number of trauma patients. ” (Albensi, & Janigro, 2003, p. 56). Comer and Gould (2011) define memory as the faculty for recalling past events and past learning. Lucy’s long term memory in the film was still fully intact so she could easily remember memories that she often brought to mind such as family members and friends birthdays. Other long term memories that we store are motor skills and behaviors. “Just as researchers do not fully understand how information is organized when stored in long-term memory, they do not know for sure how retrieval is carried out” (Comer& Gould, 2011, p. 253). Lucy suffered from what the textbook describes as anterograde amnesia.
Comer and Gould (2011) define anterograde amnesia as an ongoing inability to form new memories after the onset of the disorder or event. The text gives an example of a middle aged patient who had suffered from some form of physical brain trauma more than two decades prior may still wake up every morning believing that Ronald Reagan is still President of the United States. Which directly correspond to Lucy’s character in the movie waking up every day going through her exact same routine and thinking it is her father’s birthday every day since she in enable to recall anything before.
So Lucy’s father and her brother and the entire local town’s people go along with the same routine every day to make Lucy’s days go by smoothly. Every evening Lucy bakes a cake and her brother and father celebrate his birthday. The local restaurant employees give Lucy the same local newspaper with the correct date corresponding to her accident on it every morning when she goes in for breakfast . Individuals who suffer from anterograde amnesia often have to tackle the same problems and tasks day after day due to their lack of memory of their experience of how to solve it.
They also tend to not remember anything that has happened to them since their physical brain trauma initially occurred. (Comer & Gould, 2011, p. 269). Studies show that almost fifty percent of all severe head/ brain injuries cause some form of permanent learning and/or memory problems. “Not surprisingly, the anterograde amnesia observed in amnestic disorders is often the result of damage to the brain’s temporal lobes or mammillary bodies, areas that play a role in transferring information from working memory into long-term memory. Comer & Gould, 2011, p. 269) Lucy suffers from anterograde amnesia in the film 50 First Dates. This memory disorder impairs her ability to form new memories and to recall the accident that caused the initial brain trauma that caused her to have this disorder. Some individuals with less severe cases of anterograde amnesia which is a short term memory disorder have been known to over time show progress in being able to form new memories and some affected individuals even make full recoveries from this disorder.
The human memory is a very complex system that is dependent upon a variety of delicate factors and mechanisms that can easily be disturbed by even a slight bump of the head. While in the motion picture Lucy is not one of the lucky number of individuals who fully recover or even make progress in remembering the event that caused her brain trauma or the days prior she still managed to live a happy life and have a family with the daily explanation of her disorder.