Memory and personal identity

Types[ edit ] Anterograde amnesia is the inability to create new memories due to brain damage, while long-term memories from before the event remain intact. The brain damage can be caused by the effects of long-term alcoholism, severe malnutritionstrokehead traumaencephalitissurgery, Wernicke—Korsakoff syndromecerebrovascular eventsanoxia or other trauma. Anterograde amnesia cannot be treated with pharmacological methods due to neuronal loss. Likewise, social and emotional support is critical to improving quality of life for anterograde amnesia sufferers.

Memory and personal identity

Howland remains the same person and yet is clearly no longer the person she once was. And where is the real Alice Howland to be found? Memory becomes like a flickering signal from a faraway shortwave radio station: They can no longer read obvious social cues.

They become easily distressed as a thickening fog descends upon them, causing them to lose track of everything. As the disease Memory and personal identity, only fleeting glimpses of the once capable person can be seen; for the rest of the time, everyone is stuck with an uninvited guest.

Eventually, the sufferer fails to recognise even loved ones.

The notion of personal identity

Dementia raises deeply troubling issues about our obligations to care for people whose identity might have changed in the most disturbing ways. In turn, those changes challenge us to confront our philosophical and ethical assumptions about what makes up that identity in the first place.

Everyone touched by the disease goes through a crash-course in the philosophy of mind. Philosophy is not of much practical use with most illnesses but in the case of dementia it provides insights about selfhood and identity that can help us make sense of the condition and our own reactions to it.

Broadly speaking, there are two accounts of how personal identity is formed and sustained. Each has different implications for how we understand dementia and so seek to care for people with it.

Locke, for his part, identified the self with the ordered flow of sense experiences that the mind recorded. That tradition, more recently updated by the British philosopher Derek Parfit in books such as Reasons and Personsargues that identity and memory come from the same place: Selfhood hinges on our ability to order memory, and connect a set of experiences to form a coherent autobiography of who we were and how we became the person we are now.

David Hume on Personal Identity

The theory has implications for dementia, because dementia destroys the temporal binding that sustains our identity. According to Baldwin van Gorp of Leuven University in Belgium, who studies how the media reports dementia, this individualistic, inward looking, memory-based account of identity is the default way that dementia is framed in most public debates.

That framing carries clear implications for how we might hold dementia at bay: It explains why dementia self-help books lean so heavily on the provision of external supports: Post-It notes and other visual reminders that jog the memory.

Google — that instant memory-jogger — might already be helping to forestall the dependency created by dementia. Before long, no doubt, little robots will accompany us to make sure we remember to take our pills and flush the toilet.

Sincemovement disorders such as tremors have been treated in the US with electronic implants that provide deep brain stimulation DBS. Theodore Berger, a biomedical engineer at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and Robert Hampson, an associate professor of pharmacology and physiology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina, are drawing on that success to design implants that help people maintain their memories.

Personal Identity | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Inthey announced with colleagues that in experiments on rats and monkeys they had found a way to artificially stimulate the hippocampus so it might recall memories that would otherwise be lost. The usual dystopic spectres then hove into view, with memory becoming the site of a sharp new social divide: The memory test is practically a SAT test for the overs, who will be separated into two lines: People lucky enough to have a fully functioning memory find themselves thrust into the roles of carers and keepers, controllers and jailers: The memory-based account of identity is powerful, deeply rooted and dangerously partial.

It will direct us to potential memory cures — a mixture of implants and drugs — that will almost certainly disappoint as much as they excite. Memory is not created in a little box in the brain, but by diffuse and dispersed circuits of neurons firing in concert.

Someone with dementia would need more than an implant: And still the nagging question would remain: A more promising way forward might be drawn from ideas about personhood that sit within the continental philosophical tradition that includes Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.Brain Death and Technological Change: Personal Identity, Neural Prostheses and Uploading James J.

Memory and personal identity

Hughes. Prepared for the Second International Symposium on Brain Death Second International Symposium on Brain Death. Havana Cuba * .

Memory and personal identity

The problem of personal identity over time is the problem of giving an account of the logically necessary and sufficient conditions for a person identified at one time being the . For centuries philosophers have struggled to define personal identity.

In his work An Essay Concering Human Understanding, John Locke proposes that one's personal identity extends only so far as their own connection between consciousness and memory in Locke’s theory has earned it the title of the "memory theory of personal identity.". In philosophy, the matter of personal identity deals with such questions as, "What makes it true that a person at one time is the same thing as a person at another time?" or "What kinds of things are we persons?" Generally, personal identity is the unique numerical identity of a person in the course of time.

That is, the necessary and sufficient conditions under which a person at one time and. Personal identity deals with philosophical questions that arise about ourselves by virtue of our being people (or, as lawyers and philosophers like to say, persons).This contrasts with questions about ourselves that arise by virtue of our being living things, conscious beings, material objects, or the like.

Amnesia is a deficit in memory caused by brain damage, disease, or psychological trauma. Amnesia can also be caused temporarily by the use of various sedatives and hypnotic memory can be either wholly or partially lost due to the extent of damage that was caused.

There are two main types of amnesia: retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia.

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