EPS Mid-Career Award 2006. Understanding anterograde amnesia: disconnections and hidden lesions

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2008 Oct;61(10):1441-71. doi: 10.1080/17470210802215335. Epub 2008 Jul 31.


Three emerging strands of evidence are helping to resolve the causes of the anterograde amnesia associated with damage to the diencephalon. First, new anatomical studies have refined our understanding of the links between diencephalic and temporal brain regions associated with amnesia. These studies direct attention to the limited numbers of routes linking the two regions. Second, neuropsychological studies of patients with colloid cysts confirm the importance of at least one of these routes, the fornix, for episodic memory. By combining these anatomical and neuropsychological data strong evidence emerges for the view that damage to hippocampal-mammillary body-anterior thalamic interactions is sufficient to induce amnesia. A third development is the possibility that the retrosplenial cortex provides an integrating link in this functional system. Furthermore, recent evidence indicates that the retrosplenial cortex may suffer "covert" pathology (i.e., it is functionally lesioned) following damage to the anterior thalamic nuclei or hippocampus. This shared indirect "lesion" effect on the retrosplenial cortex not only broadens our concept of the neural basis of amnesia but may also help to explain the many similarities between temporal lobe and diencephalic amnesia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia, Anterograde / diagnosis
  • Amnesia, Anterograde / physiopathology*
  • Amnesia, Anterograde / psychology
  • Animals
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / psychology
  • Diencephalon / physiopathology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiopathology
  • Fornix, Brain / physiopathology
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiopathology
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Rats
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Thalamic Nuclei / physiopathology