polla121: February 2012 Archives

Forgetful Lucy

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In the popular movie, 50 First Dates, starring Adam Sandler (as Henry) and Drew Barrymore (as Lucy), memory loss is demonstrated. Lucy suffers brain injuries as a result of a car accident. Henry falls in love with Lucy, just for her to forget who he is the very next day. Demonstrated by her actions and words in the movie, it can be concluded that the accident resulted in damage to her hippocampus. The hippocampus is critical to our memory. She suffers from anterograde amnesia, the inability to encode new memories from her experiences.
50 First Dates accurately portrays the result of memory loss with the presence of amnesia. Unlike other movies, this movie contains more scientifically accurate information, as Lucy never regains her memory. It is a common misconception that you will instantly gain back your memory after such trauma. Some individuals may gain back some memory slowly while others will not at all.
She maintains a daily routine, reliving each and every day the exact same. Her routine consists of picking up the newspaper (which is always from the same date), ordering waffles at the local diner, and painting her room. Similar to Henry Molaison, or more commonly known as H.M., whom we read about in the text, she lives everyday as if it were alone by itself. Whatever pain or happiness she has experienced will be forgotten the next day. However, in H.M.'s case, he had surgery, removing large chunks of his hippocampi, in order to stop his epileptic seizures. Instead, he developed this rare form of anterograde amnesia. It is extremely unlikely that a car accident or any other sort of accident could result in such severe brain damage. This movie portrays a similar condition to H.M.'s, Hollywood just tends to portray the most dramatic of circumstances. H.M. and Lucy's lives have essentially been frozen in time, reliving each day the same, without retaining or learning any new information.
50 First Dates acts as comical relief for this rare form of amnesia as seen in this clip:

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