The fractionation of retrograde amnesia

Brain Cogn. 1988 Apr;7(2):184-200. doi: 10.1016/0278-2626(88)90029-2.


This single case study describes our investigations of the retrograde memory deficit of a patient who became severely and selectively amnesic after an encephalitic illness. On clinical assessment his retrograde deficit for both personal and public events appeared to encompass his entire adult life. However, he retained knowledge of words introduced into the vocabulary during the retrograde period. The experimental investigation documented his inability to recall, recognize, and place in temporal order the names and faces of famous people for all time periods sampled. By contrast, his recall of either a famous face or a famous name was significantly facilitated by the verbal cue of the person's first name and initial of the surname (i.e., Margaret T...). His performance on a test of "familiarity" that required him to select the famous name or the famous face from two distractors (unknown) was within normal limits. It is argued that names and faces of famous people are represented in more than one system: both in a vocabulary-like fact memory system that is preserved and also in a congnitively mediated schemata that in this case is functionally inoperative.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia / physiopathology*
  • Amnesia, Retrograde / etiology
  • Amnesia, Retrograde / physiopathology*
  • Encephalitis / complications
  • Face
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Names
  • Neuropsychological Tests