Retrograde amnesia

Hippocampus. 2001;11(1):50-5. doi: 10.1002/1098-1063(2001)11:1<50::AID-HIPO1019>3.0.CO;2-G.


In humans, the phenomenon of temporally graded retrograde amnesia has been described in the clinic and the laboratory for more than 100 years. In the 1990s, retrograde amnesia began to be studied prospectively in experimental animals. We identified 13 published studies in which animals were given equivalent training at two or more separate times before damage to the fornix or hippocampal formation. Eleven of these studies found temporally graded retrograde amnesia, with the extent of amnesia ranging from several days to a month or two. We consider these studies and also suggest why temporally graded retrograde amnesia has sometimes not been observed. Although the evidence in favor of temporally graded retrograde amnesia is substantial, the inference from this work, that memory is reorganized as time passes, is rather vague and depends on mechanisms yet to be identified. It is therefore encouraging that many opportunities exist for moving beyond purely descriptive studies to studies that involve treatments or manipulations directed toward yielding information about mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia, Retrograde / physiopathology*
  • Animals
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Fornix, Brain / physiopathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Humans