Bilateral medial temporal lobe damage does not affect lexical or grammatical processing: evidence from amnesic patient H.M

Hippocampus. 2001;11(4):347-60. doi: 10.1002/hipo.1049.


In the most extensive investigation to date of language in global amnesia, we acquired data from experimental measures and examined longitudinal data from standardized tests, to determine whether language function was preserved in the amnesic patient H.M. The experimental measures indicated that H.M. performed normally on tests of lexical memory and grammatical function, relative to age- and education-matched control participants. Longitudinal data from four Wechsler subtests (Information, Comprehension, Similarities, and Vocabulary), that H.M. had taken 20 times between 1953 (preoperatively) and 2000, indicated consistent performance across time, and provided no evidence of a lexical memory decrement. We conclude that medial temporal lobe structures are not critical for retention and use of already acquired lexical information or for grammatical processing. They are, however, required for acquisition of lexical information, as evidenced in previous studies revealing H.M.'s profound impairment at learning new words.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Aging / psychology
  • Amnesia / pathology
  • Amnesia / physiopathology*
  • Amnesia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Arts*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Vocabulary*