Have you ever wondered just what it is that makes you, you? If all your memories were to fade away, would your identity dissolve along with them? Would friends and family no longer perceive you to be the same person as before? For the 5.3 million Americans experiencing memory loss due to Alzheimer’s disease, these frightening questions are more than just theoretical.
Fortunately, science appears to suggest that being robbed of one’s memory does not equate with being robbed of one’s identity. A new study has found that “who one is” is largely defined by one’s moral behavior, and not by one’s memory capacity or other cognitive abilities. Thus, although Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases may powerfully impact the mental functioning of individuals, sufferers can find some solace in the fact that substantial memory deficits—when unaccompanied by changes in moral characteristics—seem to have no effect on how others perceive “who you are.”
– Scientific American