Retrograde amnesia and remote memory impairment

Neal J. Cohen, Larry R. Squire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The status of remote memory in case N.A., patients receiving bilateral ECT, and patients with Korsakoff syndrome was assessed using seven different tests. The extent and pattern of remote memory impairment depended upon the etiology of amnesia, appearing as a relatively brief retrograde amnesia for N.A. and patients receiving ECT and as an extensive impairment covering many decades for patients with Korsakoff syndrome. Differences in remote memory impairment could not be explained by differences in the severity of anterograde amnesia, indicating that amnesia is not a unitary disorder. We suggest that brief retrograde amnesia is typically present whenever amnesia occurs and that extensive remote memory impairment is a distinct entity related to superimposed cognitive deficits. These ideas and a review of previous studies lead to a comprehensive proposal for understanding retrograde amnesia and remote memory impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-356
Number of pages20
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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