Psychology Paper on the Movie 50 First Dates

Psychology Paper on the Movie 50 First Dates

In the movie “50 First Dates”, Lucy Whitmore is involved in a horrible car accident which causes severe brain damage. The brain damage causes Lucy to suffer from short-term memory loss. This accident damaged her temporal lobe; more specifically, her hippocampal region. This area of the brain is crucial in forming new memories. The movie accurately demonstrated characteristics that would be found in someone with damage to the hippocampal region.
Lucy wakes up every day believing it is October 13th, 2002 which is her father’s birthday. October 13th was the day she and her father got in a car accident in town. Ever since then, she wakes up, remembering everything up to the point of the accident but nothing that has happened since then. Lucy’s belief that it is still October 13th causes her to accomplish her daily tasks that she had planned for that day. Every night when she goes to bed, “her slate is wiped clean”, as stated in the movie and the next morning she starts all over.

The damage experienced by the hippocampal region of her brain has left her with a form of amnesia, referred to in the movie as “Goldfield’s Syndrome”. While this disease is completely fictional, however, anterograde amnesia is what Lucy’s condition is really known as. Anterograde amnesia is when one can no longer form long-term memories that have occurred after a specific event, such as the car accident. So while all of Lucy’s memories gained or experienced prior to the accident are intact such as her childhood, people’s names, who she is, and where she lives, everything learned and experienced after is a completely “new” experience to her even if she encounters it daily.

As we learned in class, with a hippocampal injury, the new memories cannot pass the hippocampus to enter permanent storage in the brain. Though she can remember things from years before, she cannot fully process the new information, such as declarative memory, for more than a day. She can encode the information for the day but cannot properly store the information for further knowledge, therefore cannot retrieve anything previously new. Some memories, such as procedural memories, can sometimes be formed with the hippocampus.

According to everything in the book and in lecture I believe that this movie demonstrated memory and anterograde amnesia very accurately. Throughout the whole movie there were demonstrations of all types of memory problems. Lucy’s character was obviously the main subject of memory loss in the movie and displayed the expected symptoms. She proved that she could encode daily information but could not store them correctly. She showed her procedural memory by painting the wall every day, but does not have declarative memory because she wakes up every morning thinking it is the same day. Overall, this was a perfect movie to accurately demonstrate human memory and forgetting.