MAY 09, 2017 10:26 AM PDT

Just a mild case of amnesia got you forgetting?


Amnesia is the classic soap opera condition where someone wakes up and doesn't remember who they are, recognize people from their life, or even sometimes speak their own language. But what actually happens in the brain to cause such an intense change in your personal reality; and even more curiously, how does your brain recover from this drastic trauma to give you back your life?

Transient Global Amnesia refers to when your brain enters a fugue state that occurs from an extreme mental trauma and often causes identity crisis and memory loss. If you're talking to someone with amnesia, you may not even realize it because they are likely able to carry on normal conversations - that is until you ask them to talk about themselves! Scientists still aren't sure exactly the causes behind amnesia. Sometimes its mild brain trauma, sometimes extreme stress, sometimes sudden immersion in hot or cold water, or sometimes even sex!

While Transient Global Amnesia is, as its name suggests, transient and only lasts a day or so, fugue states can last months. Because no one has even discovered a direct neurological cause for fugue states, there is no medicine that can be administered to those experiencing such long-term amnesia. However, it usually does go away on its own. That being said, a lot more observation and research is still needed in order to better understand the neurology behind amnesia!
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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