Sunday, August 7, 2016

A remarkable article in today's NYT Magazine describes what appears to be evidence of scientific malfeasance in the treatment of data from one of the most influential studies in neuroscience history. The article, by Luke Dittrich, suggests that MIT neuroscientist Suzanne Corkin either ignored or actively suppressed evidence that the brain of Henry Molaison  had damage to its left frontal lobe. 

Decades of research presumed that Molaison's only brain damage was the product of a temporal lobectomy in which his hippocampus, amygdala, and entorhinal cortex were removed in a desperate effort to quell his epileptic seizures. 

Studies of Molaison serve as the foundation for a huge body of memory research spanning decades. It stands to reason that this new evidence could throw into question at least some of that fundamental work.


Dittrich's grandfather was the surgeon who removed Molaison's hippocampus in 1953. The writer's 2010 Esquire piece about HM is also excellent and his book on the subject, 
Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secretsto be released August 9, will surely shed more light on what appears to be a troubling history, some of it, I expect, implicating his own grandfather, neurosurgeon William Beecher Scoville. 


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