Posts Tagged ‘Epilepsy’

Memory and Endurance

January 14, 2013

Diane Van Deren is one of the world’s elite ultra runners. She has run more than 1500 kilometers over 22 days. Note that that is kilometers, not meters. She has run for as long as 20 hours in a single day. When she is asked to estimate the amount of time she has been running she has underestimated her time by as much as 8 hours.

Her incredible endurance needs to be understood in the context of her memory. She, like the individuals in the immediately preceding post on Memory and Obesity, has had brain surgery to treat epilepsy.1 This surgery undoubtedly involved areas of the brain affecting the transfer of information into long term memory, such as the hippocampus.

It is hoped that this surgery effectively dealt with her epilepsy. It did have the benefit of letting her get into a more zen-like state that lets her run for longer without feeling so much strain, but the loss of the ability to retain new information is an unfortunate trade.

1De Lante, C. (2012). Stuck in the Present. New Scientist, 6 October, p.41.