Who is Patient NA?

Answer: Patient NA is a person with verbal amnesia as a result of an injury resulting from a miniature fencing foil that went up his nose and into his brain.

Fencing foil Patient NA

Patient NA was an American serviceman born in 1938. While stationed in the Azores in 1960, he was mock dueling a coworker when a miniature fencing foil accidentally went into his nose and damaged his brain.

Patient NA soon developed anterograde amnesia, particularly for verbal memories, but less so for nonverbal memories. Most of his mental faculties remained intact, however, including his memories from the distant past (no retrograde amnesia), his perception, and vigilance. He did exhibit a persistent upward gaze as a neurological symptom.

In particular, the left dorsomedial thalamus was injured. There was also significant damage to the mammillothalamic tract and the postcommissural fornix. The mammillary bodies are important for memory, as evidenced by their damage in Korsakoff syndrome, a form of amnesia resulting from thiamine deficiency.

He was one of the patients studied by the neurologist Larry Squire.