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Psychology Glossary of Terms

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Anterograde amnesia

Definition:
A memory deficit in which one cannot form new memories following the event that triggered the memory disruption (e.g. head injury, certain degenerative diseases, electroconvulsive shock).
 
Background:
A famous case of a male patient known as H.M. illustrates this memory deficit. H.M. underwent bilateral removal of his hippocampi in 1953 to alleviate severe epileptic seizures. Following the surgery, he (inadvertently) became amnestic for almost all events following the operation. He was unable to store or retrieve new memories, although had no difficulty with stored (long term) memories. His memory loss has been attributed to the removal of his hippocampus. H.M. has been extensively followed since his surgery. Damage to the hippocampus has been found in others cases of anterograde amnesia, although this type of amnesia can also be caused by damage to other areas of the limbic system. Anterograde amnesia is usually not complete but patchy, some events are remembered while others are not. As a result of the case of H.M., , the study of the process of memory storage has become one of the most active within experimental psychology.
 
Further Reading:

Levenson, A. J. (1981). Basic Psychopharmacology. New York: Springer.

Springer, S. P., & Deutsch, G. (1989). Left brain, right brain. (3rd ed.). New York: W. H. Freeman.

Squire, L. R. (1987). Memory and brain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 
Related Terms:
Retrograde amnesia

Self-Instructional Resources:
Take a 2-item self-test over this concept.

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