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, 19 (5), 1127-32

Impaired Delay Eyeblink Conditioning in Amnesic Korsakoff's Patients and Recovered Alcoholics

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Impaired Delay Eyeblink Conditioning in Amnesic Korsakoff's Patients and Recovered Alcoholics

R McGlinchey-Berroth et al. Alcohol Clin Exp Res.

Abstract

The performance of amnesic Korsakoff patients in delay eyeblink classical conditioning was compared with that of recovered chronic alcoholic subjects and healthy normal control subjects. Normal control subjects exhibited acquisition of conditioned responses (CRs) to a previously neutral, conditioned tone stimulus (CS) following repeated pairings with an unconditioned air-puff stimulus, and demonstrated extinction of CRs when the CS was subsequently presented alone. Both amnesic Korsakoff patients and recovered chronic alcoholic subjects demonstrated an impairment in their ability to acquire CRs. These results indicate that the preservation of delay eyeblink conditioning in amnesia must depend on the underlying neuropathology of the amnesic syndrome. It is known that patients with amnesia caused by medial temporal lobe pathology have preserved conditioning. We have now demonstrated that patients with amnesia caused by Korsakoff's syndrome, as well as recovered chronic alcoholic subjects, have impaired conditioning. This impairment is most likely caused by cerebellar deterioration resulting from years of alcohol abuse.

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