Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Retrograde Amnesia

  • Ginette LaflecheEmail author
  • Mieke Verfaellie
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_1152

Short Description or Definition

Retrograde amnesia is the inability to retrieve experiences, facts, or concepts that were acquired prior to the causative disease or trauma. The loss of memories may be partial or complete. Retrograde amnesia is almost always present to some extent in individuals who suffer from anterograde amnesia. It also occurs in various forms of dementia and head trauma.

Historical Background

Retrograde amnesia was described on several occasions in the eighteenth century – a notable example being Benjamin Franklin’s observation that electric shock could lead to loss of memory for the event. The first systematic study of retrograde amnesia came with Ribot’s (1882) treatise on disordered memory in which he formulated the law of regression, now known as Ribot’s law, that states that recently formed memories are the fastest to disappear. Contemporary cognitive hypotheses regarding the nature of retrograde amnesia find their origin in the systematic study of the dense...

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References and Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Memory Disorders Research CenterVA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University School of MedicineBostonUSA