The Brain that Changed Everything

Esquire Magazine’s November issue has a fantastic profile on Henry Molaison and his remarkable brain.

Brain surgery, whatever the era, always requires at least two frightening qualities in its practitioners: the will to make forcible entry into another man’s skull, and the hubris to believe you can fix the problems inside.

After a bicycle accident at age seven, Henry experiences seizures that increase in frequency and severity–into what the scientific community now call tonic-clonic seizures. He barely graduated high school–suffering ten or more seizures a day.

In 1953, Henry visits Dr. William Beecher Scoville, who performs brain surgery when anticonvulsive drugs fail. Dr. Scoville removes the hippocampus, amygdala, and uncus from both of Henry’s brain hemispheres, calming his seizures at the expense of his memory.

The feature article–a fascinating read–was written by Dr. Scoville’s grandson, Luke Dittrich.

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