Retrograde amnesia | Anterograde amnesia

Retrograde amnesia

In retrograde amnesia, there is a loss of memory in relation to a past event. The person affected has no memory of things that happened before the triggering event. However, the memory gap is usually relatively small, i.e. it is only the short period immediately before the triggering event.

Events further back are often well remembered. There is also no correlation between the extent of brain damage and the duration of memory loss. Several factors are known to trigger retrograde amnesia.

This is often the case after a craniocerebral trauma. The affected person does not remember the course of the accident. Psychogenic triggers are also possible.

After a traumatic life event, memory loss occurs. The experience is not remembered. Retrograde amnesia has also occurred during neurosurgical procedures. This can also be the case after electroconvulsive therapy. Retrograde amnesia is usually a short-term condition, and long-term memory in terms of future memory is usually not affected.

Transient global amnesia

Transient global amnesia is a retro and anterograde memory disorder that usually lasts less than 24 hours.

Therapy and treatment

In order to treat anterograde amnesia, one must first determine the underlying cause of the amnesia. The primary treatment goal should therefore be to treat the underlying disease. If meningitis (inflammation of the meninges) exists, the pathogens are combated with medication.

If tumours or cerebral haemorrhages are responsible for the amnesia, a relief for the compressed nerve tissue must first be created by removing the tumour or the blood accumulation. If dementia is the cause of the amnesia, treatment options are limited. There are drugs that are used to try to prevent the progression of the disease.

However, the success is often mediocre. A cure is not possible. After a stroke, certain functions can be improved by memory training.

This is an attempt to activate other areas of the brain in order to better compensate for the loss of function. However, if there has been a widespread death of nerve cells, the amnesia is often permanent. There is then no cure.


How long an amnesia lasts depends on the cause of the memory loss. After a mild craniocerebral trauma, amnesia is only temporary, with a little luck. If dementia is the cause of the memory loss, the symptoms are more likely to worsen in the course of time.

In the case of meningitis (inflammation of the meninges), the pathogens are usually treated with medication, which means that the amnesia often recedes. Even after a stroke, areas of the brain that have not been irreversibly damaged can be reactivated. This sometimes leads to a significant improvement in function.