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Man has just a seven second memory after suffering from virus
Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Real Stories

Man has just a seven second memory after suffering from virus

Clive Wearing from the UK suffers from a rare and severe form of amnesia

We all forget things from time to time, but one man has a form of amnesia which can make day to day living extremely difficult.

Clive Wearing is from the UK, and suffers from a severe and rare form of amnesia.

The musician suffers from a very rare case of chronic anterograde and retrograde amnesia. This effectively means that his memories are reset after just 30 seconds.

In fact, Wearing is thought to be one of the most severe cases of amnesia recorded in medical history.

Born in 1938, Wearing became an accomplished musician, playing keyboard, singing tenor at Westminster Cathedral, conducting, and working as a musicologist and a producer.

Things changed enormously on 27 March 1985, when Wearing contracted a virus which attacked his nervous system, leading to an infection in his brain.

The condition, called herpes encephalitis, ended up causing severe damage to Wearing's hippocampus. This is a part of the brain which deals with memory, specifically changing short-term memory into long-term memory.

Clive Wearing has total amnesia.

That's a useful ability to have when remembering things for extended periods.

Wearing ended up with two kinds of amnesia at the same time.

These are anterograde amnesia, which means that you can't make new memories but retain old ones, meaning your memory is stuck in one place.

Then there's retrograde amnesia, which is losing old memories but being able to make new ones, so like a 'reset' almost.

Unfortunately for Wearing, he ended up suffering from both of these conditions at the same time. So, not only did he forget everything from before, but also was unable to make new memories. This rare and severe form is called global or total amnesia.

What this meant for him was that his memory was effectively between seven and 30 seconds long. He could forget what he was talking about before he even got to the end of a sentence.

Clive only recognises one person.

Watching films or reading books would be impossible, as he couldn't remember what had happened just a few moments before.

But it's even more profound than that, as he also lacks any autobiographical memory, so he can't even remember his own life.

Although he knows that he has children, he can't remember their names, or what they look like. He knows that he used to be a musician, but has zero recollection of any of his career.

The only person that he does recognise is his second wife Deborah, who he greets with joy and affection every time she enters the room.

Even though each time he meets her is the first time, he always knows that he's happy to see her.

Topics: News, UK News, Health, Mental Health