The inability to travel psychologically on time is the latest memory disorder that intrigued researchers, and although most people who suffer from it do not realize it, it may be more frequent than we think.
Susie McKinnon does not recall her childhood or any other stage in her previous life, which she now lives at the age of 60. Do not forget even special events. He knows he went to his nephew's wedding. She knows her husband went with her. But he does not remember I was there.
Actually, He has little memories of his life, even though he does not have amnesia.
For many years, McKinnon did not think it was different, because we tend to assume that our mind works just like everyone else. We do not usually talk about how it feels like it has memory. And McKinnon assumed that when people narrated stories about their past, they invented details to entertain others.
It was until a friend who had a medical practice asked if she could do a memory test in her studies to realize that McKinnon lacking autobiographical memory,
McKinnon then investigated amnesia, but the stories of people who have lost memory due to illness or brain injury do not reflect their experience. She could remember that events were easy I could not remember how it was to live,
— New Syndrome —
Just a decade ago, after breaking his legs, he was looking for activities that would take time and began to read research on mental travel in time and decided to contact a scientific researcher in the field.
The day he wrote an email to Brian Levin, a memoir at Rotman's research institute at Baycrest in Toronto, was nervous. Levine, on the other hand, was one of the most exciting days of his career. And the result of their communication was the identification of the new syndrome: Strong lack of autobiographical memory.
People have an extraordinary ability to travel mentally in time, going forward and backward in our minds according to will. Do not forget when you were in elementary school or imagine that next week you will sit on a beach towel and watch dolphins float on the horizon. You probably not only imagine the facts of these scenarios but also the experience that you are there, and that's exactly what McKinnon can not do.
As Brian Levine told me about BBC All in the Mind, "there are almost past events for her as if they were with a third personas if they were past experience of another person ".
And to some extent we do it all, we forget about most of the things that have happened to us, but for McKinnon it is far more extreme.
How do they differ from amnesia? —
This syndrome is very different from amnesia, which usually occurs after a certain event or brain injury, and it is difficult for a person to keep new information for creating new memories.
People with a severe lack of autobiographical memory syndrome (or SDAM) can learn and store new information, but this information lacks the wealth of real life experience.
If McKinnon remembers the details of the event, it's because he saw an image or deliberately learned the story of what happened. You can not imagine that you were there, or what he was wearing or with whom he was.
"It could have been another person who attended family weddings, not me. In my opinion, I have no proof that I was there, it does not feel like it's something I did," McKinnon said in everything in his mind.
That's McKinnon can not feel the nostalgia of reviving the best moments of lifeThe advantage is that nor can he recall the pain associated with bad experiencesDifficult moments such as the death of a relative feeling at the time of the same intense, but after a time loses feeling.
She can be a better person, because she has no resentment because she can not make the feelings that made her feel bad first and foremost.
As far as the cause is concerned, until now, researchers have found no illness or injury related to this problem, and that people are born like thatAlthough Levine and his team continue to investigate possible links with other disorders.
— Inability to psychically visualize —
McKinnon also has it afantasía, that is, you can not visualize imagesIt is difficult to know if this prevents you from keeping alive memories in comparison with other people. The decade of memory research has shown us that we reconstruct every event in mind whenever we remember it, but we do not know if we all do it the same way.
Some may see an image or video in their mind, others may think more about abstract ideas or facts.
Catherine Loveday, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Westminster, asks if there are similarities in our early memories. We can remember the events that happened to us three years ago, because we could hear or see pictures of them. But It's hard to remember how they feel.
Currently, it is not known how prevalent SDAM is, although Levine and his team are trying to find out using an on-line survey. 5,000 people have already participated and many think they have this problem. Although it is a sample of own choice, data suggest that pIt could be more frequent than we think,
Levin's team explores the idea autobiographical memory could be in the spectrum in which SDAM will be at one end, while those with a very good autobiographical memory, who rarely forget something secular, would find themselves in the other.
– So, does it matter if you have this problem? —
If SDAM does not affect how you live, probably not.
As for McKinnon, she always lived so, so she knew the malady that she had probably been with her all her life was just an interesting fact that made sense of the differences she'd ever noticed between her and other people. Now he understands that others do not make stories.
"My experience was never different for me it is not a loss"he said.
"Since I have never had this ability (to remember in detail what preceded or visualized the events), I can not resist it."
And McKinnon sees another advantage: we do not think of the past or of the day-to-day speech about the future.
"I know that many people struggle with this idea of being at the moment, but it is very easy for me becauseIt's the only way my brain works. So I always live that moment"
Follow us on Twitter …