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.
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...
References and Readings
- DeRenzi, E., Liotti, M., & Nichelli, P. (1987). Semantic amnesia with preservation of autobiographical memory: A case report. Cortex, 23, 578–597.Google Scholar
- Kopelman, M. D. (2000b). The neuropsychology of remote memory. In L. S. Cermak (Ed.), Handbook of neuropsychology (Vol. 2, pp. 251–280). Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.Google Scholar
- Moscovitch, M., Yaschyshyn, T., Ziegler, M., & Nadel, L. (2000). Remote episodic memory and retrograde amnesia: Was Endel Tulving right all along? In E. Tulving (Ed.), Memory, consciousness and the brain (pp. 331–345). Philadelphia: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
- Ribot, T. A. (1882). Diseases of memory. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.Google Scholar