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Cognitive Exam

Retrograde Memory

January 1st, 2017


The ability to recall old memories prior to significant brain injury or psycho-trauma.
  • Ask About

  • Recent memory - what is my name; what did you have for breakfast; what meds did you take today?
  • Remote memory - when and where did you get married?
  • Causes of Amnesia

  • Intracranial - stroke, trauma, tumour, infection, epilepsy, degenerative disease
  • Substances - intoxication, withdrawal, Korsakoff's
  • Psychiatric - schizophrenia, psychogenic amnesia
  • Insufficiency - liver, heart, kidneys
  • Hypoxia / anoxia
  • Malingering
  • Interpretation

  • Loss of recent memory (minutes or hours prior to injury)Mild to moderate brain damage (concussion)
  • Loss of remote memory (months of years)Convulsive therapy
  • Temporal grading: sparing of the most distant memoriesKorsakoff syndrome, thalamic or frontal damage
  • Flat profile: equal loss of memory with no temporal gradingHerpes simplex encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia
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