Amnesia – Memory Loss: Concept, Types, Causes, Symptoms And More.

The amnesia is a deficit in memory caused by brain damage, illness or psychological trauma, it can also be caused temporarily the use of various sedatives and hypnotic drugs. Memory can be partially or totally lost due to the magnitude of the damage caused.

Being a little forgetful is completely different from having amnesia , as this term refers to a large-scale loss of memories that should not have been forgotten, these can include important moments in life, memorable events, key people in our lives and events. vital things that we have been told or taught about.

People with amnesia also find it difficult to imagine the future, because our constructions of future scenarios are often based on our memories of past experiences.

Our ability to remember events and experiences involves a variety of complex brain processes. Most people with amnesia are usually lucid and have a sense of themselves. However, they may experience severe difficulties learning new information, struggling to recall memories of past experiences, or both.

Types of amnesia

There are different types of amnesia. Below is a list of the most common:

Anterograde amnesia

Where the patient cannot remember new information, things that happened recently, the information that must be stored in short-term memory disappears. This is usually caused by brain trauma (brain damage from a blow to the head, for example). However, a patient with antegrade amnesia can recall facts and events that occurred before the injury. Expand this information in the article on anterograde amnesia

Retrograde amnesia

It is often thought of as the opposite of anterograde amnesia. The patient cannot remember the events that occurred before his trauma, but remembers the things that happened after it. In very rare cases, both retrograde and anterograde amnesia can occur together. Read more about Retrograde Amnesia

Transient global amnesia

Temporary loss of all memory. It is also very difficult for the patient with this type of amnesia to form new memories (severe anterograde amnesia). The loss of past memories is milder, this is a very rare form of amnesia, and is more likely to occur in older adults with vascular (blood vessel) disease. To expand the topic read: transient global amnesia

Amnesia postraumática

It is memory loss caused by a hard blow to the head; for example, a car accident. People with post-traumatic amnesia may experience a brief loss of consciousness or even go into a coma. In most cases, how long it lasts usually depends on the severity of the injury. Sports scientists say that amnesia is an important indicator of concussion. More information on Post-traumatic Amnesia

Dissociative amnesia

This is a very strange phenomenon. Patients forget not only their past, but also their own identity. A person can wake up and suddenly they have no sense of who they are, even if they look in the mirror, they do not recognize their own reflection. All the details in your wallet, driver’s license, credit cards, IDs, are meaningless. This type of amnesia is usually triggered by an event that the person’s mind cannot properly cope with. In most cases, your memory, slowly or suddenly, returns within a few days. However, the memory of the shocking event itself can never be fully returned. To learn more, read the article: Dissociative Amnesia

It results from a psychological cause as opposed to direct damage to the brain caused by a head injury, physical trauma, or disease, which is known as organic amnesia. Dissociative amnesia can include:

The repressed memory; it is the inability to remember information, usually about stressful or traumatic events in people’s lives, such as a violent attack or disaster.

Dissociative fugue is also known as the fugue state. It is caused by psychological trauma and is usually temporary and unresolved, and therefore can return. An individual with dissociative fugue disorder is unaware or confused about their identity and will travel on trips away from a familiar environment to discover or create new identities.

Infantile amnesia

The patient cannot recall events from early childhood. Experts say that this type of amnesia may be associated with language development , others say that some memory areas of the brain may not have been fully mature during childhood. You have more information about this in: Child amnesia

Fountain amnesia

It is the inability to remember where, when or how previously acquired information has been acquired, while preserving factual knowledge. You have a complete article at the following link: Source amnesia

Transient epileptic amnesia

It is a rare and unrecognized form of temporal lobe epilepsy , which is typically an isolated episodic memory loss. It has been recognized as a treatment-sensitive syndrome compatible with antiepileptic drugs. To read more go to:  Transient epileptic amnesia


The person cannot remember faces, they can acquire prosopamnesia or be born with it. Complete information here:  Prosopamnesia

Causes of amnesia

Any disease or injury that affects the brain can interfere with the complexities of memory. Memory function involves many different parts of the brain simultaneously.

Causes of medical amnesia

This refers to amnesia caused by brain injury or damage. Possible causes are:

  • Knock.
  • Encephalitis:  Inflammation of the brain, this can be caused by a viral infection, such as herpes simplex, or an autoimmune reaction to cancer in another part of the body (paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis, PLE).
  • Celiac disease:  Although no clear link has been fully agreed upon, researchers report that people with celiac disease commonly seek medical help for amnesia, confusion, and personality changes .
  • Oxygen deprivation:  Any illness or condition that weakens the oxygen supply to the brain, such as a heart attack, respiratory distress, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Some medications: such as sleep medication.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage:  Bleeding in the area between the skull and the brain.
  • A brain tumor found in a part of the brain important for memory.
  • Some seizure disorders.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy:  Also known as electroshock therapy, this is a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are induced by therapeutic effect in anesthetized patients. Memory loss is almost always temporary.
  • Head injuries:  Like those that occur in car accidents, they can cause memory problems. In most cases, amnesia is not severe and does not last long.

Causes of psychological amnesia

Also known as dissociative amnesia, this is caused by emotional shock, such as:

  • Being the victim of a violent crime
  • Sexual abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Being involved in combat (soldiers)
  • Being involved in a natural disaster
  • Being present during a terrorist act

The list is endless, in simple terms, any intolerable life situation that causes severe psychological stress and internal conflict. In general, amnesia caused by psychological stressors interrupts personal and historical memories rather than interfere with the disposition of new memories.

Symptoms of amnesia

Amnesia is a rare condition, the following are common symptoms:

  • The ability to learn new information is impaired (anterograde amnesia)
  • The ability to recall past events and previously familiar information is impaired (retrograde amnesia)
  • False memories, these can be completely made up or consist of real memories out of place in time (collusion)
  • Uncoordinated movements, sometimes tremors (neurological problems)
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Partial memory loss
  • Total loss of memory
  • Failure to recognize faces
  • Inability to recognize places

Amnesia is different from dementia. Although dementia includes memory loss, it also involves other major cognitive problems that can affect the patient’s ability to carry out daily activities.

Diagnosis of amnesia

Initially, a doctor will need to rule out other possible causes of memory loss, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease , depression, or a brain tumor. The doctor will require a detailed medical history; this can be difficult if the patient does not remember things, so family members or caregivers must also be present.

A doctor will need the patient’s permission to discuss their medical details with someone else.

The doctor will cover the following problems:

  • Can the patient remember recent events and / or remote events (events further back in time)?
  • When did the memory problems start?
  • How did the memory problems evolve?
  • Were there any factors that may have caused the memory loss, such as a head injury, surgery, or stroke?
  • Is there a family history of any neurological or psychiatric disease or condition?
  • Details about the patient’s alcohol intake
  • Is the patient currently taking any medications?
  • Has the patient taken illegal drugs, such as cocaine or heroin?
  • Are the patient’s symptoms undermining their ability to care for themselves?
  • Does the patient have a history of depression?
  • Has the patient ever had cancer?
  • Does the patient have a history of seizures?

The doctor may also do a physical exam. This could include checking the patient:

  • Reflexes
  • Sensory function
  • Balance
  • Some other aspects of the brain and nervous system.

The doctor can also check the patient:

  • Judgment
  • Short term memory
  • Long term memory
  • The memory assessment will help determine the extent of the memory loss. This will help you decide on the best treatment.

To find out if there is any physical damage or brain abnormality, the doctor may order:

An MRI :  A machine uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of any part of the body; in this case, the brain.
CT scan :  A medical imaging method that uses tomography. Tomography is the process of generating a 2D image of a section or section through a three-dimensional object (a tomogram). A CT scan is good at detecting bleeding in the brain (especially from an injury).
An EEG : It provides a picture of the brain while the patient performs a cognitive task, a task that requires thinking. It allows the doctor to detect the location and magnitude of the brain activity involved.
Blood tests can also reveal the presence of any infections or nutritional deficiencies.

Treatments for amnesia

Fortunately, in most cases, amnesia resolves without treatment. However, if there is an underlying physical or mental disorder, it should be treated (if possible).

Psychotherapy can sometimes be effective for some patients. Hypnosis can be an effective way to recall forgotten memories.

Family support is crucial in helping a patient with amnesia get better. Psychologists and psychiatrists say that reality-orientation aids, such as photographs, smells, and music, can help.

Treatment of amnesia often involves techniques and strategies to help compensate for the memory problem. This may involve:

  • Work with an occupational therapist to acquire new information to replace lost memories, or to use existing memories as a basis for acquiring new information.
  • Learn various strategies for organizing information to make it easier to store.
  • Learn how to make the best use of digital aids , such as smartphones. With proper training, even patients with severe memory loss can become quite proficient with daily tasks. The smartphone can be used to remind the patient of important events, when to take medications, appointments and key commitments. Patients who cannot remember people’s names or faces can store a long list of face photos and check them whenever they want.

There are currently no medications for memory restoration in patients with amnesia. Because Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome involves a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1), targeted nutrition can help. Whole grains, legumes (beans and lentils), nuts, lean pork, and yeast are rich sources of thiamine.

How to acquire new memories and information?

Patients with amnesia can learn new information, particularly non-declarative knowledge. However, some patients with dense anterograde amnesia do not recall the episodes during which they previously learned or observed the information.

Declarative information

Some patients with antegrade amnesia are still able to obtain semantic information, although it may be more difficult and may not be related to more general knowledge.

You could accurately draw a floor plan of the house he lived in after surgery, even though he hasn’t lived there in years. The reason that patients cannot form new episodic memories is likely because the CA1 region of the hippocampus was damaged and therefore the hippocampus was unable to make connections with the cortex. Following an ischemic episode after surgery, an MRI of patient RB showed that his hippocampus was intact except for a specific lesion restricted to CA1 pyramidal cells.

Non-declarative information

Some retrograde and anterograde amnesias are capable of non-declarative memory, including implicit learning and procedural learning. For example, some patients show improvements in the pseudo-random sequence experiment as healthy people do. Therefore, procedural learning can proceed independently of the brain system required for declarative memory.

According to studies, the acquisition of procedural memories activates the basal ganglia, the premotor cortex and the complementary motor area, regions that are not normally associated with the formation of declarative memories. This type of dissociation between declarative and procedural memory can also be found in patients with diencephalic amnesia such as Korsakoff syndrome. Another example demonstrated by some patients, such as KC and HM, who have temporal medial damage and anterograde amnesia, still have a perceptual bait. Those patients did well on the word fragment completion test.

How to prevent amnesia?

The following healthy habits can reduce the risk of head injury, dementia, stroke, and other possible causes of memory loss:

  • Avoid heavy use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Wear head protection when playing sports that put you at high risk for concussion.
  • Stay mentally active throughout your life. For example, take classes, explore new places, read new books, and have fun with challenging games.
  • Stay physically active throughout your life.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat protein.
  • Keep hydrated.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.