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Tuesday 23 Jan 2007 3.45pm (original TX Wednesday 2 August 9.30am)
Most of us take our memories for granted. In this series you'll meet six people who don't have that luxury.
John has developmental amnesia. He can't remember day to day events like what he had for lunch, or where he was sitting just a few moments earlier yet but he can tell you who the entire England football team is or discuss stories around the day's news events.
His immediate memory is fleeting yet he is like a walking dictionary. How has he managed to acquire a vast bank of knowledge of history, news and banks of facts and yet has such difficulty with forming memories of the day to day?
John was born 29 years ago, prematurely, one of twins. Because he didn't get enough oxygen in hospital the part of his brain which mediates his memory for events - the hippocampus - was damaged while the area which allows him to acquire long-term memories was spared.
In this fascinating programme, John talks candidly about how he finds his way to work, remembers the right bus, and how with the help of a note filled diary and a mobile phone he manages many of his day to day memory failings. He talks about the immense concentration required of him at work - how he remembers customer requests and why he gets huge pleasure from reading fantasy novels.
He admits he is attracted to complexity despite the pitfalls. His mother, Beverley, explains why she has always taken lots of photographs and films of family events to document their family's life and provide a partial replacement to some of John's lost memories whilst cognitive neuroscientist, Professor Faraneh Vargha-Khadem helps to explain what's happened to John's brain and what it tells us about our memory system.
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