Focal autobiographical amnesia in association with transient epileptic amnesia

Brain. 2001 Mar;124(Pt 3):499-509. doi: 10.1093/brain/124.3.499.


Although problems with remembering significant events from the past (e.g. holidays, weddings, etc.) have been reported previously in patients with transient epileptic amnesia (TEA), to date there have been no detailed studies of autobiographical memory in patients with this disorder. To investigate this issue, a 68-year-old right-handed man (R.G.) who suffered from TEA and reported significant autobiographical memory problems was tested on a battery of neuropsychological tests of anterograde and remote memory. Tests of autobiographical memory revealed that R.G. was unable to evoke detailed autobiographical recollections from a substantial part of his life. By contrast, he performed well on tests of new learning and general knowledge and possessed good personal semantic information about his past. In summary, a distinct form of autobiographical amnesia, which is characterized by loss of experiential remembering of significant events, may be associated with TEA. It is proposed that the autobiographical memory deficit seen in the disorder may result from the progressive erasure of cortically based memory representations. This case adds to growing evidence for a dissociation between mechanisms subserving anterograde memory and those required to evoke remote episodic memories.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amnesia, Anterograde / etiology
  • Amnesia, Anterograde / physiopathology*
  • Amnesia, Anterograde / psychology
  • Autobiographies as Topic
  • Epilepsy / complications
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests