Temporally-specific retrograde amnesia in two cases of discrete bilateral hippocampal pathology

Hippocampus. 1999;9(3):247-54. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-1063(1999)9:3<247::AID-HIPO5>3.0.CO;2-W.


The role of the hippocampus in retrograde amnesia remains controversial and poorly understood. Two cases are reported of discrete bilateral hippocampal damage, one of which was a rare case of limbic encephalitis secondary to the human herpes virus 6. Detailed memory testing showed marked anterograde memory impairment, but only mild, temporally-limited retrograde amnesia that covered a period of several years in both autobiographical and factual knowledge domains. The absence of extensive retrograde amnesia in these two cases points to a time-limited role for the hippocampus in the retrieval of retrograde memories, and suggests that entorhinal, perirhinal, parahippocampal, or neocortical areas of the temporal lobe may be more critical than the hippocampus proper for long-term retrograde memory functioning. Our findings offer general support to theories of memory consolidation that propose a gradual transfer of memory from hippocampal to neocortical dependency.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amnesia, Retrograde / pathology*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / immunology
  • Encephalitis, Viral / psychology
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / psychology
  • Herpesvirus 6, Human / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Paraneoplastic Syndromes / psychology
  • Time Factors