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In the original X-Men movies, Wolverine is on a quest to find out who he is and what happened to him after Stryker removed his memory. How is it possible that his physical body can heal instantaneously and his memories can't?

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Because that's how his mutation works? We should probably ask a neuroscientist but I'd say there may be more to lost memories than just broken synapses or destroyed nerve cells. Maybe the nerve cells stored information that's lost now or maybe the information of how to connect the nerve cells cannot be regained out of nowhere, in constrast to a mere bunch of destroyed skin or flesh cells. –  Napoleon Wilson Sep 10 '13 at 7:46
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Memory is stored as a series of chemical changes or connections in the Brain. So the memory is in fact a neurological matter existing physically in the brain.

Amnesia is loss of memory. The memory can be either wholly or partially lost due to the extent of damage that was caused. There are two main types of amnesia: retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia. Retrograde amnesia is the inability to retrieve information that was acquired before a particular date, usually the date of an accident or operation. In some cases the memory loss can extend back decades, while in others the person may lose only a few months of memory. Anterograde amnesia is the inability to transfer new information from the short-term store into the long-term store. People with this type of amnesia cannot remember things for long periods of time

When the bullet pierced Wolverine's admantium skull and penetrated his brain, there was some loss of brain matter. Now either of these two things must have happened -

  1. When the bullet pierced his brain, it damaged tissue. While his body healed that back, the chemical responses (memories) stored in the tissue were lost indefinitely. So although his brain healed back, and other functions were generated normally - like speaking and walking and so on, the long term memory area suffered significant damage.
  2. When the bullet pierced his brain, it cut through brain tissue and got lodged somewhere in his brain. So while the other tissues healed back up, body functions and actions were resumed, the part where the bullet was lodged might have been the area where long term memories are stored. So that is the reason his memories might never have reformed. I'm sure what to answer if the bullet was removed and whether the memories would reform.

Personally I'm inclined to agree more with point 1 than 2. Because Professor X can still access some memories in Logan's mind. So I'm thinking damage to the brain with long-term memory affected combined with some degree of Amnesia. This is based on his behavior and occasional remembering some aspects of his previous life.

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Are you sure the bullet pierced Wolverine's skull? I always thought it just knocked him out. - According to the Marvel Universe Wiki ordinary Adamantium cannot pierce Adamantium. And in the Movie-verse Wolverine's adamantium doesn't seem to grow back, so piercing his skull would leave a permanent hole (although his skin would heal and cover the hole). –  Oliver_C Sep 10 '13 at 19:45
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The movie showed that. The bullet causes a hole in the skull which is healed back. –  kicker86 Sep 11 '13 at 3:49
    
Thanks for clearing that up, I haven't seen the movie since it came out 4 years ago. - I do remember a scene in X2 where Wolverine gets shot in the head by a policeman which renders him unconscious for a few seconds. I guess that's why I assumed that skull penetration wasn't necessary to knock Wolverine out. –  Oliver_C Sep 11 '13 at 8:35
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