Tag Archives: anterograde amnesia

Remember Sunday

To quickly summarize, in the film Remember Sunday, Actor Zachary Levi plays as Gus, a current jeweler and former astronomer living in New Orleans, who suffered from a brain aneurysm that gave him anterograde amnesia. He was able to retain his already grounded Long-Term memories prior to the incident however, he cannot form any new memories. Alexis Bledel plays as Molly, a waitress who’s been unlucky in love and financially shaky as she awaits for an inheritance to come her way. As any love story, she and Gus are designed to be together, but how can someone love a person who will forget them every day for the rest of their lives?

This a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, as such this does deliver the expected romantic drama love story to it. For those in the Psychology major, a feeling of familiarity should be apparent in the movie. I can’t say that this movie is particularly astounding, but I can say that it does its best to be unique and thoughtful about life without something we take for granted everyday, memories. If you have the time, I urge you to think critically about the leading characters in the film and how it translates to the patients we humbly get to study. The film sheds some light onto very real and sometimes very frightening aspects of the human condition while keeping a generally light tone. I think for those of us studying psychology, it’s easy to forget that the patients we read about time and time again aren’t just their brain damage/psychological disorder. What I like about this movie is when you slip into Gus’s shoes, there is a lot of sacrifice and frustration that comes with having to live with a memory impairment like the one portrayed in this film. That premise is what I consider to be it’s strongest point.


Spoilers ahead→

While yes I did really like the film and find a lot of lesson in it, I can’t get past some major plot holes regarding Gus’s condition and how it was expressed by the director Jeff Bleckner.

The biggest plot hole is it’s false overarching idea of how short-term and long term memory function in the human brain (as of our current research). In the film at about 36 minutes, Gus, along with his sister go to a doctors appointment where the doctor explains to him, “Most healthy brains use sleep to consolidate short-term memories into long for you it’s the opposite, sleep takes away your short term memories.” Then, throughout the days in the movies it’s understood that he remembers 6am, his usual wake up time, until he goes to sleep.

Here’s why that’s an issue. As of current research, the average short-term memory is 6-7 chunks in capacity according to Miller, while long term memory is immensely vast. The movie is giving the false impression that everything we do from when we wake until we sleep is held in short term and later consolidated and processed into long term. Not all of our day is only short-term memory. A lot of what we do in our day is encoded in a variety of ways. Moving information into long-term memory is process that can be done with consistent memory rehearsal techniques and methods, not only during sleep. However, it is true that for memory consolidation, sleep is quite important. The hippocampus is what decides what information moves into long term, and it does this when the body is asleep or awake. Moving information from short term into long term memory, is a consistent process that can be expressed through primacy and recency tasks like word list recall. This is a task that shows we can move information into long term when awake. When researching cases regarding the idea of losing memory after 24 hours, I found the case of F.L. In this case, a woman was in a car accident and her memory functioned normally throughout the day, until she went to sleep. Unlike the case of F.L., the film makes it clear that Gus’s memory doesn’t work like normal, his hippocampus was severely damaged, therefore he shouldn’t display similarities to F.L. Instead, a more accurate portrayal of Gus would have been if his life was shown similar to H.M., a man whose hippocampus was removed because of his severe epilepsy. The film says Gus’ hippocampus was “destroyed,” so we can only assume it was unable to function in entirety similar to H.M. Therefore, the expression of anterograde amnesia on screen for Gus’ particular case seems very unlikely.

Getting past this main issue, the following are somethings that I believe the movie did well. Gus’s Procedural memory such as working on the jewelry, making origami elephants, and rollerskating are all examples that seemed to hint that Gus’ procedural learning still remained functional despite the amnesia. While these may also be from past experience, he did continue to practice and do better at these tasks.

Furthermore, The bridge scene is something I think is notable. We have to remember that experiencing such an intense event in one’s life such as an aneurysm, is traumatic. Gus’s aneurysm was a traumatic event and we see it more visually when he reaches that bridge in California in front of his former observatory. His breathing changes and the stress in his voice is clear, almost at the verge of panic. He claims that the observatory and the event of what he learns to be his aneurysm, plays in his mind as the very last solid moment he remembers before his memories shut off.

He may not remember the aneurysm himself, though he re-learns everyday that this aneurysm, at the last place he remembers, has derailed his growing career, his life, and his ability to create a future. These feeling can be extremely painful, yet he only has a little less than a day to cope with that pain. We learned from H.M. that grief requires time and memory. He couldn’t cope fully with the news of his uncle’s death, because he couldn’t create any new memories to help him cope. This concept is something I’m sure is very hard for people with a healthy functioning brain to fully fathom. However, I believe it is important to take the time to really try to reflect the weight that H.M and patients with other debilitating conditions had to carry on their shoulders.

For further information on memory and research for this post check  https://docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vSFeVHKvsuNj6Mdmz41EgnyYRmNk82llGEl2dOcgn_soTfLnCAxb_ronGDAuv9CAVazTMe0aWx8xuDU/pub



P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney


Dory, the lovable regal blue tang fish, has a tendency to forget things almost instantly after becoming distracted. In turn, this makes Marlin the clown fish’s journey to find his son more problematic, being that the Dory is the sole witness to his son’s abduction. At first, Marlin tolerates Dory’s unreliability, but soon he finds it unbearable. Relaying his frustrations to her, he demands and explanation. Dory, realizing the situation, confesses that her odd behavior is due to ‘short-term memory loss’, but is that truly the case?

Short-term memory is what you are consciously processing. It is limited both in capacity (about 7 items, plus or minus 2) and in duration (about 15-30 seconds). To put it in perspective, you are using short-term memory this very instant to read this blog post. If you did not have short-term memory, you would be unable to process and understand what these letters mean. Not only would you be unable to read, but you also would be unable to hold a conversation or work out math problems.

Now, relating this back to Dory, it is with evident that Dory is perfectly capable of holding a conversation and reading (as seen when she reads “P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney” off of scuba goggles). This means that Dory does have short-term memory and is not impaired in those processes in any way. Though this begs the question that if it is not short-term memory loss that Dory has, then what is it?

This answer can be found when you look more into Dory’s symptoms. Dory is seen on many occasions having a conversation with someone, then abruptly gets distracted and soon cannot remember what they were discussing. Though she forgets some things almost instantly, she can remember long-term events such as her family and her name. Dory can also perform implicit memory tasks that require “unconscious memory” such as swimming in the sea without having to think about it. After researching these symptoms, it is clear that Dory has anterograde amnesia.

Anterograde amnesia “is the loss of the ability to create new memories”. Mainly, it is thought to be due to damage to the hippocampus and the medial temporal lobe. The hippocampus and the medial temporal lobe are both known to be linked with explicit memory (or declarative memory) which are the things we consciously remember. Though long-term memory is by far more complex of a process that it cannot be related to only two brain structures, evidence has been found to prove that these structures are extremely important for this process. The hippocampus and the medial temporal lobe specifically relate to consolidation, or the process of strengthening a memory so you can consciously recall or retrieve when required, this helps turn short-term memories into long-term memories. Thus, when Dory cannot recall events that occurred just moments earlier, it is because her memories never made it to long-term storage, therefore once her memory leaves short term storage, it is immediately forgotten.

At a first glance, Dory’s diagnosis may seem counter intuitive. That Dory, who can only remember a short duration of experiences and thoughts, does not have short term memory loss. I too had fallen into confusion when I first read up on the topic of short term memory loss and realized that Dory’s disorder diagnosis was untrue. Though after further research, the results are clear. Dory does not suffer from short-term memory loss, but she does suffer from of anterograde amnesia.