How can musicians keep playing despite amnesia?

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Pianist's hands

Scientists are trying to understand how amnesiacs can lose all memory of their past life - and yet remember music. The answer may be that musical memories are stored in a special part of the brain.

When British conductor and musician Clive Wearing contracted a brain infection in 1985 he was left with a memory span of only 10 seconds.

The infection - herpes encephalitis - left him unable to recognise people he had seen or remember things that had been said just moments earlier.

But despite being acknowledged by doctors as having one of the most severe cases of amnesia ever, his musical ability and much of his musical memory was intact.

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