Curiosity That Lasts a Lifetime
This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
Dr. Brenda Milner spent decades working with the same patient as a McGill University neuroscientist – but he didn’t recognize her from one visit to the next. The patient, known as H.M., suffered from severe epilepsy. He had undergone brain surgery that made it impossible for him to turn short-term memories into long-term memories. But by working with H.M. over time, Dr. Milner found that through practice, H.M. still acquire new skills. Somewhere in his brain, long-term memories were being stored. This discovery – that the brain has multiple systems for storing memories, and that different types of activities are stored in different areas of the brain – was the watershed that paved the way for the development of modern-day cognitive neuroscience. Dr. Milner, now in her 90s, continues to be an active professor and researcher at McGill today.