Recent work with amnesic patients has revealed a preserved capacity for acquiring and retaining new skills despite otherwise profound anterograde memory impairment. In addition to their anterograde impairment, amnesic patients also have retrograde memory loss for some information acquired prior to the amnestic event. The present experiment addresses for the first time the question of whether preservation of memory for skills is also a feature of retrograde memory impairment. To determine the susceptibility of a recently learned skill to retrograde amnesia, we taught patients to read mirror-reversed words before and during the early part of a prescribed course of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and then tested retention of the skill after the course of treatment had been completed. Patients prescribed bilateral or right unilateral ECT and depressed patients not receiving ECT acquired the mirror-reading skill at the same rate and then retained it at the same level. For the patients prescribed ECT, intact learning and retention of the skill occured despite retrograde amnesia for the previous testing sessions and for the words that they had read previously.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience