As a 95-year-old psychologist, Brenda Milner still remembers the “bad old days” of frontal lobotomies as a treatment for psychosis. In fact, her research provided some of the first evidence showing why such invasive brain operations could be harmful.
Milner, who teaches and conducts research at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University in Quebec, is perhaps most known for her work with Henry Molaison, a patient formerly known as H.M.
Molaison had epilepsy and was treated by having specific regions of both his temporal lobes—the parts of the brain we now know are responsible for memory—removed in 1953 by William Beecher Scoville, a neurosurgeon at Hartford Hospital. The operation helped Molaison’s epilepsy but gave him anterograde amnesia, meaning he could not form memories of new events, though his working memory was unaffected.
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