Retrograde amnesia

‏In retrograde amnesia, one doesn’t remember the events of the past that occurred before injury or before onset of disease.

Retrograde amnesia (RA) is a loss of memory-access to events that occurred, or information that was learned, before an injury or the onset of a disease.It tends to negatively affect episodic, autobiographical, and declarative memory while usually keeping procedural memory intact with no difficulty for learning new knowledge. RA can be temporally graded or more permanent based on the severity of its cause. The type of information that is forgotten can be very specific, like a single event, or more general, resembling generic amnesia. It is not to be confused with anterograde amnesia, which deals with the inability to form new memories following the onset of an injury or disease.


The causes of retrograde amnesia can be as follows;

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Thiamine deficiency
  • Encephalitis
  • Stroke
  • Seizures

How is it treated?

There are no specific medications used to treat retrograde amnesia. Generally, your treatment will focus on the underlying cause of the amnesia. For example, if you have epilepsy, you and your doctor will work to reduce your number of seizures.

Currently no cures for Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative dementias exist. However, there are some medications that may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment for other types of dementia generally focus on support and coping.

Spontaneous recovery:

When someone is suffering from RA, their memory cannot be recovered from simply being told personal experiences and their identity. This is called reminder effect or reminder treatment. The reminder effect consists of re-exposing the patient to past personal information,which cannot reverse RA. Thus, reminding the patient details of their life has no scientific bearings on recovering memory. Fortunately, memory can be and usually is recovered due to spontaneous recovery and plasticity.


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