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Science & Technology

Song triggers amnesiac's lost memories

June 16, 2021 | Comment icon 4 comments

Memories can be triggered by the most unexpected of things. Image Credit: CC 2.0 Andrew Mason
A man who had forgotten ten years of his life suddenly experienced flashbacks after hearing a specific song.
When 19-year-old Thomas Leeds crossed the road in central London one day in the early 2000s, a taxi suddenly careened into him, sending him flying head-first onto the ground.

The scene of the accident was dire, with the vehicle exhibiting extensive signs of damage.

Incredibly, however, Thomas himself seemed to have escaped with only a minor head injury. He was even discharged from hospital shortly afterwards - which, as it turns out, was a mistake.

After complaining of headaches and nausea, he returned to the hospital for a scan where it was found that he had developed a blood clot that, if left untreated, would have killed him within 24 hours.

After undergoing surgery, he awoke to find that he couldn't remember anything. When his family members arrived to see him, he couldn't recall who they were.
Upon returning home, he didn't even recognize the house he had lived in for his entire life.

This extensive memory loss would go on to plague him for over 10 years, until - out of the blue - he heard a song, The Waterboys' 1980s hit 'The Whole of the Moon', which triggered something in his head, causing many of his lost memories to come flooding back in a series of flashbacks.

"It just needs little memory chemicals floating around to trigger a slightly bigger picture," said neurologist Dr Colin Shieff. "That causes a cascade that he translated into a vision."

Today, Thomas still has trouble remembering some things, but his memory is no longer the blank slate it once was.

"It's been 18 years now and I am this person." he said. "It's lovely knowing a little bit of who I was before, but I've had such a life now. Just knowing that I've got something real from before, from the beginning of my story, really helps me face the future."

Source: BBC News | Comments (4)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by spartan max2 11 months ago
That interesting. Suggest it's a retrieval problem moreso than the memories being killed off.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Seti42 11 months ago
Sensations and memories are linked. This makes sense. I've never suffered from amnesia, but experiencing a familiar sound, smell, sight, etc. always triggers memories. I also think memories aren't wiped easily, but accessing them can become a problem for many reasons.
Comment icon #3 Posted by mesuma 11 months ago
I had mild Covid in October of last year and the only symptom I had was loss of taste and smell which has never fully returned.  It's a strange world without the familiar smells and tastes that trigger memories.  I think it's the cause of some of the brain fog that some folk who had the virus complain of where your brain isn't being stimulated enough.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hammerclaw 11 months ago
Reminds me of the movie, Fifty First Dates.

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