Posts Tagged ‘essay’

Music And Amnesia

In March of 1985, Clive Wearing, an eminent English musician and musicologist in his mid-forties, was struck by a brain infection—herpes encephalitis—affecting especially the parts of his brain concerned with memory. He was left with a memory span of only seconds — the most devastating case of amnesia ever recorded. New events and experiences were effaced almost instantly. Oliver Sacks‘ fascinating essay The Abyss tells the tale:

Clive cannot retain any memory of passing events or experience and, in addition, has lost most of the memories of events and experiences preceding his encephalitis—how, then, does he retain his remarkable knowledge of music, his ability to sight-read, play the piano and organ, sing, and conduct a choir in the masterly way he did before he became ill?