The case of K.C.: contributions of a memory-impaired person to memory theory.

Neuropsychologia

PubMedID: 15769487

Rosenbaum RS, Köhler S, Schacter DL, Moscovitch M, Westmacott R, Black SE, Gao F, Tulving E. The case of K.C.: contributions of a memory-impaired person to memory theory. Neuropsychologia. 2005;43(7):989-1021.
K.C. has been investigated extensively over some 20 years since a motorcycle accident left him with widespread brain damage that includes large bilateral hippocampal lesions, which caused a remarkable case of memory impairment. On standard testing, K.C.'s anterograde amnesia is as severe as that of any other case reported in the literature, including H.M. However, his ability to make use of knowledge and experiences from the time before his accident shows a sharp dissociation between semantic and episodic memory. A good deal of his general knowledge of the world, including knowledge about himself, is preserved, but he is incapable of recollecting any personally experienced events. In displaying such "episodic amnesia," which encompasses an entire lifetime of personal experiences, K.C. differs from many other amnesic cases. Here, we document for the first time the full extent of K.C.'s brain damage using MRI-based quantitative measurements. We then review the many investigations with K.C. that have contributed to our understanding not only of episodic and semantic memory but also to the development of other aspects of memory theory. These include the distinction between implicit and explicit memory, the prospect of new learning in amnesia, and the fate of recent and remote memory for autobiographical and public events, people, and spatial locations.