Memory can be impaired by various injuries and diseases. Damage to the medial temporal lobe and hippocampus can devastate the ability to acquire new declarative memory; damage to the storage areas in cortex can disrupt retrieval of old memories and interfere with gaining of new memories simply because there is nowhere to put them (Squire). Alzheimer’s causes memory impairments from the early stages, recent memories tend to be poorly remembered while there may be good memory for long-ago events. Other conditions such as viral infections, depression and use of drugs (including medication) can affect memory by disrupting brain chemicals as well.
Debates about memory loss and identity
There is currently much debate over whether memory loss is inevitable with
aging, or whether it is a by-product of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease
and cardiovascular disease which are more common in old age than in youth (Squire).
You have to begin to lose your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what makes our lives. Life without memory is not life at all…Our memory is our coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are nothing.(Luis Bunuel)
” Like Bunuel, Many argue that memory loss obliterates identity and therefore lose their sense of self.” Lisa Genonva also agrees that when memory loss takes place it takes away your identity too. “But this may not be the whole story. Neurologist Oliver Sacks argues
“But this may not be the whole story. Neurologist Oliver Sacks arguesEvery act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.( Oliver Sacks)
Others debate that although memory is lost their identity is somewhat preserved. Taking the same stance as Sacks, Alix Kate Schulman also believes that with memory loss you still have your identity.