It gives me great pleasure to see this journal honoring Suzanne Corkin for her substantial contributions to cognitive neuroscience. Suzanne Hammond (now, Corkin) was my second graduate student at the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), where she overlapped with Doreen Kimura. Sue had come to McGill from Smith College, and one day, she arrived in my laboratory with a strongly expressed wish to work on somesthesis. This somewhat unexpected choice delighted me because it filled a gap in our ongoing program, which up to then had dealt primarily with the visual and auditory functions of the temporal lobes. The topic of somesthesis also fit well with the interests of Dr. Theodore Rasmussen, who by then had succeeded Wilder Penfield as director of the MNI. Rasmussen believed, contrary to the current view at the time (Evans, 1935), that an excision from the parietal cortex that spared the postcentral gyrus and that did not compromise its blood supply would cause no lasting sensory deficits on the contralateral hand. Using precise measures of point localization, two-point discrimination, and position sense, similar to those developed by Semmes, Weinstein, Ghent, and Teuber (1960), Sue showed that this was indeed the case (Corkin, Milner, & Rasmussen, 1970). She also constructed tactually guided learning tasks (including a tactual alley maze) analogous to the visual tasks already in use in our laboratory. In all these works, she showed the patience and meticulous attention to detail in the gathering of data that were to characterize her future work.
While Sue was still at the MNI, Scoville's now famous amnesic patient, H.M., came to Montreal from Hartford for a week's study, the only time that we were able to bring him to Canada. Sue worked with him then, little knowing how much time she would spend with him in the future. It is interesting that, although H.M. showed no progress over 80 trials in learning the correct sequence of turns on her tactual maze (“having a little argument with himself” about which way to turn at each choice point), yet his time scores nonetheless improved steadily throughout, as he acquired the proprioceptive motor skills required for this unfamiliar task (Corkin, 1965).
Upon completing her Ph.D., Sue moved to Boston to take up a postdoctoral fellowship in Hans-Lukas Teuber's newly formed Department of Psychology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she rapidly made a home for herself and where she was to spend the rest of her career. During those early years, I frequently traveled to Boston and, together with Teuber, I embarked on further studies of H.M., first in Hartford and later in the new Clinical Research Center at MIT. Following Teuber's untimely death in 1977, Sue took charge of the human neuropsychology laboratory at MIT, and she arranged for frequent visits by H.M., sometimes lasting several weeks. During these visits, she made him available not only to her own students but also to other scientists who had specific hypotheses to test. She also assumed major responsibility for his health and well-being. It is doubtful that H.M. would have survived for so many years and, for most of the time, in relatively good health, were it not for Sue's remarkable dedication. This special issue recognizes her major contributions, direct and indirect, to the field of brain and memory.
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