Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong (shadesong) wrote,
Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong

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Thought and Memory

My brain damage is very specific: mesial temporal sclerosis; scarring in my left hippocampus. (This page has good information for the layman; if you want to get more in-depth, check this one out.) The lesion causes the seizures, which worsen the lesion. Tick tick boom - never know when I'm going to seize again, and if it's going to cause further damage, and if it does, how much.

The past few years have been much like the end of Flowers for Algernon, just so you know.

But what this is about is memory. See, the temporal lobe and hippocampus are where memories are made, stored, et cetera. And since my damage is very specific, it's fairly easy to map out what's affected: Short-term memory. Long-term memory is okay. Ain't what it used to be, but I still know my writing, and I can still tell you coyote stories and Inanna's descent and the entire history of the X-men. But I have the very devil of a time with short-term memory. And I was able to map that a bit better on this trip, because I was surrounded by people who were unfamiliar with my breakage. Adam has learned to work around it pretty seamlessly by now. But Rose and Cat, S00j and K, were unfamiliar with it, so their reactions helped me build a more detailed map.

Basically, my buffer's broken.

This site has some good information on memory encoding. Basically, information enters. It hits the hippocampus, is buffered, and gets written to disk (long-term memory). In a normal person. My damage is such that the hippocampus does not have a bunch of the cells it needs to do this.

Example: I'm given a verbal list of instructions - say five items. Items 3 and 4 push items 1 and 2 out of the buffer without being recorded; item 5 pushes out item 3. Sometimes,if my brain realizes that it's being asked to actively record information, it dumps the core and I don't retain any of it. Example of this on the trip: Rose telling me where the saucers go, and me losing every speck of information from the buffer, having it just fall out, and having to get her to repeat the directions.

Verbal stuff is really hard. This is part of why I don't like phones - I lose most of the information you give me verbally. It just does not get recorded. This is why I prefer e-mail - I need to have that in writing, or I won't remember what we decided, or if we spoke about it at all. I save all of my chats, all of my e-mails. I write everything down. Because I cannot rely upon my brain to record it.

I hope the buffer analogy helps people grok this...

I fight to be this functional, y0. So please be patient with me if I need to stop to take notes, or request that you e-mail me something, or forget that I owe you e-mail, or, well, anything.

Long-term memory is functional. Spatial memory is good - if you show me where the saucers are, for example (and Rose did), I will remember. Interesting how many different aspects of memory there are, and what varied bits of the brain handle 'em...

EDIT: Another example - cannot hold instructions in my head from looking at the paper to looking at the jumble of parts. So assembling the Gazelle? Ummno.
Tags: epilepsy
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