Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Strange Brain

This documentary explores unusual neurological conditions. It profiles four people with different disorders that affect their memories and sleeping patterns. One woman was struck down by a virus that has erased all her recollections of the last 20 years, while another woman is unable to record new memories. The film also meets a man who loses his muscle tone every time he experiences heightened emotions.

For Mohammad Doud, each day is a constant battle to stay awake. One second he is talking normally, the next he slumps to the floor as if paralysed. Mohammad has cataplexy, which means that any feeling of heightened emotion leads to a total loss of muscle tone. His condition is so severe it can strike up to 60 times a day. Now, for the first time in more than 20 years, he embarks on the 30-minute train journey into London, battling the effects of his condition all the way.


Claire Rutherford and her husband preside over a family of boisterous teenagers in their large house near Peterborough. So far, so ordinary - but Claire's story is anything but normal. Four years ago, the same common herpes virus that causes cold sores attacked Claire's brain, completely wiping out her memories of the previous 20 years. This film follows Claire as she battles to rebuild her memories.


Nicola Pomphrett was also struck down by viral encephalitis, but in her case it has left her unable to lay down new memories. Nicola lives in a perpetual present time with a working memory of no more than two minutes. Now she undergoes a series of experiments which vividly demonstrate her goldfish-like inability to recall new information. And for Seattle teenager Alanna Wong, "normal" life is measured in periods of seven to ten days at a time. She suffers from the rare sleeping disorder Kleine-Levin Syndrome, which causes her to sleep for up to 20 hours a day. In attempt to confirm her diagnosis once and for all, this film records Alanna as she undergoes an advanced brain scan.

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