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Episode 1

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 15 July 2013

Permanent Present Tense by Suzanne Corkin is the fascinating story of the life and legacy of Henry Molaison. In 1953 Henry underwent an experimental brain operation to alleviate his debilitating epilepsy which had a devastating and unexpected side effect. Henry was unable to store or recall any new memories, no longer could he remember the faces of new people he met, the places he visited, the moments he lived through, and the myriad experiences of everyday life. Memories slipped from him after just thirty seconds. Following the medical procedure he became the subject of research into neuroscience and went on to transform the way the scientific community understand memory and how it functions. This book is both a biography of Henry (known in the media and the world of science as HM), and the development of neuroscience over the course of the fifty years from the date of Henry's operation to his death in 2008.

Permanent Present Tense is written by the renowned neuroscientist Suzanne Corkin who is the head of the Corkin Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She worked with Henry for nearly five decades and tells his story and that of his contribution to medical science and elucidates the complex world of memory and the advances that have been made by researchers and enhanced by the technological revolution of the last half century.


Debora Weston
Elizabeth Allard
Suzanne Corkin
Richard Hamilton


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