Just Keep Swimming

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In the movie, Finding Nemo, Marlin (voiced by Albert Brooks), a timid clownfish who lives on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, sets off in search of his son, Nemo. He's accompanied by Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), a blue tang fish who suffers from "short-term memory loss."
As Marlin and Dory go in search of Nemo, Dory encounters multiple sets of information that she cannot seem to remember.

In this clip, Dory has just met Marlin and quickly forgets meeting him or what that she was leading him to find a boat. While she does experience some memory loss, this is not a completely accurate movie because as the movie continues Dory begins to remember information such as who Marlin is or the fact that they are on a mission to find Marlin's son. In a patient with complete short term memory loss, they would not be able to learn new information like Dory.
While she does begin to remember some things, there are at least two instances where Dory shows that she has implicit, if not explicit, long-term memory. At one point on their journey, Dory is cautioned to go through a trench, not over it. Dory forgets this information, of course, but when they finally get to the trench she has the intuitive feeling that they should go through, not over. Marlin overrules her, and they encounter a school of jellyfish. The incident is reminiscent of Claparede's patient (http://www.fearexhibit.org/brain/memory/claparedes_pinprick_experiment), who forgets the experience but retained the knowledge that "Sometimes people hide pins in their hands". (Claparede pictured below)

Later in the movie, when Dory finally encounters Nemo, she has of course forgotten all about him. When she asks his name, he replies "Nemo", and she comments that "That's a nice name". When she asks his name, he replies "Nemo", and she comments that "That's a nice name". The incident is reminiscent of demonstrations by Johnson, Damasio, and others, that amnesic patients can acquire preferences through what Zajonc has called the mere exposure effect (http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/mere_exposure.htm), even though they don't remember the exposures.
All things considered, Dory is portrayed in an only somewhat accurate light. Although the research of Clarapede, Zajonc and others does show that memory in the form of intuitions can be gained by patients with memory loss, Dory shows conscious changes in memory and learns much too quickly for a real memory loss patient. Although at times she behaves much like H.M. (who we learned about in class) at others she picks up information quickly and is able to use it later on. This is especially prevalent in the latter half of the movie.

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This page contains a single entry by meye1867 published on October 23, 2011 4:38 PM.

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