The researchers found that while Mr. Molaison couldn’t remember who he met yesterday or what happened last week, he could still learn how to do things. He might not remember learning how to perform a task, but he retained the knowledge of how to do it. This unconscious knowledge about how to do something (ride a bike, for example) is called procedural memory.
The discovery of procedural memory may help people diagnosed with mild Alzheimer’s stay functional. I’ve written before about how Dr. David Loewenstein at the University of Miami is studying the use of procedural memory to work around problems with memory and thinking in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Sections of Mr. Molaison’s brain have been preserved, and digital images of the sections will be available for scientists to study. We’ll have to wait to see if this detailed imaging and analysis of his brain adds to our understanding of memory loss.