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Brain and Memory

Lessons from neurosurgical patients

Dr. Brenda Milner

ABSTRACT: For many years, memory was thought to be a function of the whole brain, and not critically dependent upon any one area. This view changed in the early 1950’s, when the study of a few patients who became profoundly amnesic following bilateral damage to the medial structures of the temporal lobe pointed to the importance of the hippocampal region for autobiographical memory. This work also provided early evidence for the existence of multiple memory systems in the brain.

THE SPEAKER: Brenda Milner is a fellow of the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Canada and a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. In 1984, Milner was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 2004. Also in 2004, she was awarded the prestigious Neuroscience Award from the United States National Academy of Science. Dr. Milner won the Gairdner Foundation International Award in 2005 and the Balzan prize in 2009 "for her pioneering studies of the role of the hippocampus in the formation of memory and her identification of different kinds of memory systems". She has received over 20 honorary degrees.

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