Transient global amnesia is a condition in which a person temporarily loses the ability to create new memories. One of the hallmarks of the disorder is that the patient's short term memory periodically resets, frequently resulting in the patient getting stuck in a loop. Unlike Phil, Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day, the patient doesn't remember events from cycle to cycle. However, observers get a taste for Phil's surreal experience as they watch the patient repeat the same questions, statements, and behaviors over and over again like a broken record.
An episode of Radiolab (at 7:15) features a woman suffering from transient global amnesia, whose memory resets every 90 seconds. Her daughter recorded the exchange with her mother, which replayed almost verbatim every 90 seconds over the course of several hours:
Mother: "What's the date?"Dr. Jonathan Vallejos, who treated the woman, has seen a number of these cases. According to Dr. Vallejos:
Daughter: August 24
Mother: My birthday has already passed?
Mother: "Darn" (same inflection) (laughs)
Mother: "What happened?"
Daughter: "You were working in the garden ... I called the paramedics"
Mother: (eyes widening) "This is so creepy"
Everyone becomes a broken record, down to the phrasing of the sentences. It makes the brain seem a little more like a machine. You give the machine exactly the same set of inputs and see if the output ever varies. It doesn't. It almost seems like the patient has no free will.I would agree with Dr. Vallejos if he removed "little more" and "almost." The brain is a machine. The patient does not have free will. If there is any better evidence that the brain is computer and performs determined actions in response to external input, I have not seen it.