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Learn Mem. 2006 Sep-Oct;13(5):545-57.

Retrograde amnesia in patients with hippocampal, medial temporal, temporal lobe, or frontal pathology.

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King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, based at St. Thomas's Hospital, SE1 7EH, United Kingdom.


There is considerable controversy concerning the theoretical basis of retrograde amnesia (R.A.). In the present paper, we compare medial temporal, medial plus lateral temporal, and frontal lesion patients on a new autobiographical memory task and measures of the more semantic aspects of memory (famous faces and news events). Only those patients with damage extending beyond the medial temporal cortex into the lateral temporal regions showed severe impairment on free recall remote memory tasks, and this held for both the autobiographical and the more semantic memory tests. However, on t-test analysis, the medial temporal group was impaired in retrieving recent autobiographical memories. Within the medial temporal group, those patients who had combined hippocampal and parahippocampal atrophy (H+) on quantified MRI performed somewhat worse on the semantic tasks than those with atrophy confined to the hippocampi (H-), but scores were very similar on autobiographical episodic recall. Correlational analyses with regional MRI volumes showed that lateral temporal volume was correlated significantly with performance on all three retrograde amnesia tests. The findings are discussed in terms of consolidation, reconsolidation, and multiple trace theory: We suggest that a widely distributed network of regions underlies the retrieval of past memories, and that the extent of lateral temporal damage appears to be critical to the emergence of a severe remote memory impairment.

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