Memory for the temporal order of events in patients with frontal lobe lesions and amnesic patients

Neuropsychologia. 1990;28(8):803-13. doi: 10.1016/0028-3932(90)90004-8.


Patients with frontal lobe lesions, amnesic patients with Korsakoff's syndrome, other (non-Korsakoff) amnesic patients, and control subjects were given tests of memory for temporal order. In the first experiment, subjects were presented with a list of 15 words and then asked to reproduce the list order from a random array of the words. In the second experiment, they were asked to arrange in chronological order a random display of 15 factual events that occurred between 1941 and 1985. In both experiments, patients with frontal lobe lesions were impaired in placing the items in the correct temporal order, despite normal item memory (i.e. normal recall and recognition memory for the words and facts). The two groups of amnesic patients exhibited impaired memory for temporal order as well as impaired item memory. Patients with Korsakoff's syndrome exhibited poorer temporal order memory than the other amnesic patients, despite similar levels of item memory. These findings demonstrate that patients with frontal lobe lesions have difficulty organizing information temporally. Patients with Korsakoff's syndrome, who have both diencephalic and frontal damage, have memory impairment together with a disproportionate deficit in memory for temporal order.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Amnestic Disorder / physiopathology
  • Amnesia / physiopathology*
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology
  • Serial Learning / physiology*