Retrograde and anterograde memory

One of the questions frequently asked by relatives of memory-impaired people is, 'Why can she/he remember what happened several years ago but not what happened yesterday?' The short answer is that old memories are stored differently in the brain from new memories. Although information acquired before a neurological insult may be forgotten, this is usually for a specific time period—ranging from a few minutes for some head-injured people to several decades for some people with Korsakoff' syndrome or herpes simplex viral encephalitis. Memory loss dating from before the insult is known as retrograde amnesia. This form of amnesia is usually less of a problem and less handicapping for the memory-impaired person than anterograde amnesia, which refers to memory difficulties dating from the time of the neurological insult (although see Kapur(3) for a review of retrograde amnesia).

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