Influence of patients' emotional state on the recovery processes after a transient global amnesia

Cortex. 2011 Sep;47(8):981-91. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2010.10.003. Epub 2010 Oct 26.


Introduction: Currently, there is no consensus on the delay necessary to a complete recovery after a transient global amnesia (TGA). However, it seems that slight episodic memory disorders extend beyond 24h. Although this impairment is probably a consequence of the TGA attack, other factors such as patients' emotional state can intervene in the slow recovery process.

Methods: In a first experiment, we studied the dynamic of recovery processes after a TGA. Thus, we assessed the anterograde and retrograde components of episodic memory in 19 patients one day, one month and one year after the attack. In a second experiment, we examined the impact of patients' emotional state on memory disorders, in using an original neuropsychological protocol (using material with emotional features) and an assessment of anxiety and depressive mood. This protocol was carried out in 19 other patients examined four months and one year after TGA.

Results: In the first experiment, we highlighted mild memory disorders affecting the anterograde component of episodic memory one day after the episode. In the second experiment, we showed these mild memory disorders could be detected several months after TGA. Moreover, patients who had the more depressive tendencies recognized the fewer items and those who displayed the highest level of anxiety supplied the fewer specific remote memories.

Conclusions: Our results showed that patients displayed very mild memory disorders several months after the episode of TGA, not affecting the daily routine. This impairment was influenced by patients' emotional state, which could suggest that a high level of anxiety or depression can slow down the recovery. However, we cannot be sure that the deleterious effect of patients' emotional state on their cognitive performances is specific to TGA. Other investigations are necessary to unravel this issue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Amnesia, Transient Global / psychology*
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recovery of Function*