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Brain. 1995 Feb;118 ( Pt 1):167-83.

The 'Petites Madeleines' phenomenon in two amnesic patients. sudden recovery of forgotten memories.

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Neurological Department, Ospedale S. Carlo Borromeo, Milan, Italy.


We report two cases of recovery from retrograde amnesia, which occurred almost suddenly, 1 year and 1 month from onset, respectively. Amnesia followed a left thalamic infarction in one patient and a mild head trauma in the other. Full and permanent recovery occurred within a short time after the spontaneous emergence to consciousness of a single autobiographical event, triggered by the specific experience of a very similar new event. Recovery was limited to retrograde amnesia, leaving unaffected the anterograde deficit present in one of the patients. The nature (psychogenic versus organic) of our patients' memory loss is commented upon in the light of a review of previously reported cases of retrograde amnesia. The transient defect of retrograde memory is discussed in terms of a reversible distortion of the neuronal 'patterned matrices' suggested by Gloor (Brain 1990; 113: 1673-94).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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