As a motorist who got involved in a crash in Pennsylvania, you likely dealt with many physical and mental effects. One common issue you may struggle with is memory loss. In particular, you may struggle to remember events surrounding the accident.

But why does this happen? Why is it so common? And will you ever recover these memories?

Short term memory and the frontal lobe

The Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center looks at where the brain stores memory. The first thing to understand is that damage to the frontal lobe impacts short term memory collection and storage. Short term memories in duration of 15 to 30 seconds get stored in the frontal lobe. Thus, anything impacting the frontal lobe will disrupt this process.

Damage to the frontal lobe is very common in many crashes, especially head-on and rear-end collisions. When the brain smacks against the inside of the skull, it can create bruising and trauma. At the moment of the impact, your brain may “misfire”. It “forgets” to store short term memory in that time, or it simply cannot due to the trauma.

When your memory fails to store

After, you may find it hard to recall details surrounding the accident. It may appear to you as though you only remember brief glimpses. In some cases, you may not remember anything at all. While this feels like a failure to remember, it is actually something different. Your brain likely did not store those memories as they happened. In other words, they do not exist at all, which is why you cannot recall them.

The severity of the impact and its location will determine how much memory you lose about the crash. Additionally, you may forget it as a form of self-protection due to trauma. In the case of the latter, it is possible to recover some or all of the memory with time and therapy. With the former, you will likely miss portions of the memory from then on.