The relationship between working memory and episodic memory disorders in transient global amnesia

Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(12):2508-19. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2006.03.031. Epub 2006 May 11.


In a previous study, we investigated the relationship between the disorders of both episodic memory and working memory in the acute phase of transient global amnesia (TGA). Since executive functions were spared, another dysfunction may be responsible for the binding and maintenance of multimodal informations and contribute to the encoding disorders observed in some patients [Quinette, P., Guillery, B., Desgranges, B., de la Sayette, V., Viader, F., & Eustache, F. (2003). Working memory and executive functions in transient global amnesia. Brain, 126, 1917-1934.]. The aim of this present study was to assess the functions of binding and maintenance of multimodal information during TGA and explore their involvement in episodic memory disorders. We therefore conducted a more thorough investigation of working memory in 16 new patients during the acute phase of TGA using two tasks designed to assess the binding process and both dimensions of the maintenance, namely the active storage and the memory load ability. We also investigated the nature of the episodic memory impairment in distinguishing between the performance of patients with preferential encoding deficits and those of patients with preferential storage disorders on the episodic memory task. This distinction was closely related to the severity of amnesia, i.e. an encoding disorder was observed rather in the early phase of TGA. The results showed that while the functions of binding and maintenance of multimodal information were intact in patients with storage disorders, they were impaired in the case of encoding deficits. These results are interpreted in the recent framework of episodic buffer proposed by Baddeley [Baddeley, A. D. (2000). The episodic buffer: A new component of working memory? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 4, 417-423] that represents an interface between working memory and episodic memory.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amnesia, Transient Global / physiopathology*
  • Amnesia, Transient Global / psychology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Photic Stimulation / methods