Anterograde amnesia


In anterograde amnesia, the patient suffers from a memory disorder in which the ability to remember new content is massively restricted. Memories that lie after the beginning of the triggering event cannot be stored and are lost after a short time. Anterograde means forward facing; here in relation to the temporal dimension. An anterograde amnesia is more frequent than the retrograde form and results in severe everyday restrictions for the person affected.


The causes of anterograde amnesia are numerous. The type and extent of amnesia can vary greatly depending on the trigger. A concussion or epileptic seizure can lead to anterograde amnesia, but it is usually temporary.

Poisoning with a neurotoxic (= toxic for nerve cells) substance also has this effect. An amnesia that gets worse in the course of time is called progressive amnesia. A classic example is amnesia in dementia, e.g. in Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease or Pick’s disease.

Head injuries, strokes or brain haemorrhages can also lead to amnesia. The same applies to brain tumours. A more rare trigger for amnesia is meningitis.

Metabolic diseases and malnutrition can also cause amnesia. This also applies to drugs and alcohol. Here, memory loss is usually desirable and only temporary.

However, regular consumption of alcohol can also lead to the so-called Korsakow syndrome. Besides organic causes, there are also psychogenic factors that lead to amnesia. Symptoms of epilepsy Symptoms of epilepsy

Anterograde amnesia with Dormicum®/Midazolam

Midazolam is a drug from the group of benzodiazepines. It is sold under the name Dormicum®. Anterograde amnesia occurs briefly after taking the drug.

The ability to remember new events is significantly reduced. The drug also has an anxiety-relieving effect. These effects are used before operations. The drug is also used in emergency and intensive care medicine. Here it is used for sedation (calming) via a permanent infusion, e.g. in the context of a short anaesthetic.

Diagnosis of anterograde amnesia

The diagnosis of anterograde amnesia can already be made during the patient interview (anamnesis). For more precise differentiation, clinical tests can be carried out to evaluate long-term memory. The next step is to investigate the cause of the amnesia by means of extensive diagnostics.

For this, sectional imaging of the brain is essential. This can be done by means of CT or MRT examination. An EEG to assess the brain waves can also be meaningful. If meningitis is suspected to be the cause of the amnesia, blood and cerebrospinal fluid (liquor) must be examined.

Associated symptoms

The main symptom of anterograde amnesia is the loss of memory for new content. Events that are experienced cannot be stored in long-term memory and are lost again after a short time. In addition to this memory loss, orientation disorders can occur.

Confusion with perceptual disorders, loss of performance and concentration disorders also occur as concomitant symptoms. In addition, the cause of amnesia is decisive when it comes to the question of accompanying symptoms. In a craniocerebral trauma, the nerve cells in the brain are reversibly or irreversibly damaged by the violent impact.

In such cases, severe headaches, nausea and vomiting are typical accompanying symptoms. A stroke or cerebral haemorrhage can be accompanied by additional neurological deficits. These are functional disorders such as muscle paralysis, sensory, speech and visual disorders. This depends on which areas of the brain are affected by the damage.