What is anterograde amnesia?

Anterograde amnesia is a condition in which a person cannot create new memories after an event that caused the amnesia.Anterograde amnesia may involve partial or complete inability to remember events that have occurred. At the same time, people with this type of amnesia have a complete long-term memory before the event.

Memory type

Before we delve into more details about anterograde amnesia, it would be helpful to understand the different types of memories that may be affected by amnesia.

First, we can divide memory into declarative or non-declarative And define each type to better understand the difference:

Declarative memory can be further divided into episodic memory and semantic memory, that is, whether memory involves a connection with time or place, or simple facts that can be recalled but have nothing to do with any particular time segment.

  • Episodic memory: Episodic memory refers to autobiographical information including time or space background.For example, you may remember what happened during a holiday.
  • Semantic memory: This type of memory refers to factual information that has nothing to do with past events.For example, you may remember that you own a bicycle, but don’t remember where you bought or ridden it.

Brain areas related to memory

Which brain areas are involved in anterograde amnesia? There are a few we can consider. Research tells us that the hippocampus and nearby subcortical areas are likely to be related to this. The medial temporal lobe (MTL), basal forebrain, and fornix are all thought to be potential parts of the brain that may play a role.

The MTL system includes hippocampus, nasal, entorhinal, and parahippocampal regions, which are important for fact recall (declarative memory). On the other hand, MTL does not involve non-declarative memory.

We also know that obstacles often affect all forms (sound, touch, vision, taste, smell).

Symptoms of anterograde amnesia

Because anterograde amnesia prevents people from creating new memories, you will forget the following things:

  • Someone just met
  • What did they eat at the end
  • New phone number
  • Recent life changes
  • What they learned recently

People with anterograde amnesia may remember how to call, but they don’t remember what they did earlier this morning. This is because declarative and non-declarative memories are thought to be stored in different areas of the brain. More importantly, these people usually lose the plot part of the declarative memory, rather than the semantic part.

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The difference between anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia is the time of memory loss. People with retrograde amnesia cannot remember what happened before the event that caused their amnesia.

On the other hand, people with anterograde amnesia can usually remember everything before that event—but they cannot keep the memory of what happened after that. It is possible for a person to suffer from both types of amnesia at the same time: this is called severe overall amnesia.

In essence, anterograde amnesia is thought to be related to the failure to encode (or possibly retrieve) new memories. Anterograde amnesia also has varying degrees of severity. Some people may forget a recent meal or a new phone number, while others may forget what they were doing 30 seconds ago. Task difficulty also affects memory, and more complex tasks are harder to remember than simple tasks that may require less brain power.


There are many potential causes of anterograde amnesia, all of which are related to some kind of trauma or stress in the brain. Some factors that may increase the risk of anterograde amnesia include:

Drug use: Short-term anterograde amnesia may be caused by the use of certain drugs.

Benzodiazepines: These drugs, together with the use of non-benzodiazepine sedatives (such as Zolpidem), cause anterograde amnesia (surroundings).

Traumatic brain injury: damage to the hippocampus or surrounding areas is related to the existence of anterograde amnesia.

Brain inflammation: brain inflammation such as encephalitis is related to signs of antegrade amnesia.

Brain surgery: Patients who have removed parts of their brains, such as MTL, have shown injuries related to anterograde amnesia.

Stroke: Stroke is related to anterograde amnesia.

Alcohol interruption: People who drink heavily in a short period of time may lose their memory during drinking. However, after the incident, their memory function will return to normal.

Chronic alcoholism: On the other hand, chronic alcoholism can lead to thiamine (B1) deficiency, which leads to Korsakoff syndrome, which leads to serious problems with antegrade episodic memory.

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Concussion/sports injury: Concussion and head movement injury are related to anterograde amnesia.

Electroconvulsive therapy: ECT is an effective treatment for depression, but anterograde amnesia is an observed side effect, although studies have shown that this effect may be temporary or short-term.


Testing for anterograde amnesia may involve the use of brain scanning techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT scans.In addition, the doctor will ask questions to understand memory loss, such as:

  • Whether long-term or recent memory is affected
  • When the memory problem starts
  • What could be the reason
  • If there is a family history of similar problems
  • Any substance use, history of seizures
  • Related issues, such as confusion, language problems, or personality changes.

Treatment of anterograde amnesia

Although there is no cure for anterograde amnesia, even if it is a permanent injury, some recovery and rehabilitation are possible. At the same time, there is no medication for amnesia. Instead, use the following compensation strategy:

  • Remind buzzer
  • Diary/Notes/Diary
  • Family support
  • Occupational therapy

The treatment of anterograde amnesia is mainly aimed at controlling the condition. The FDA has not approved any drugs to treat amnesia, but in the case of vitamin deficiency, vitamin B1 (thiamine) supplements can be used. Technical tools can also be used to provide assistance, usually in the form of daily planning and reminder applications.

A case study of anterograde amnesia

In the most famous case study of patients with anterograde amnesia, the patient known as HM was shown to be able to learn how to complete the maze, even if he had not previously completed the memory of the maze. Due to surgery to cure epilepsy, HM suffers from anterograde amnesia.

Another well-known case study of anterograde amnesia is the case of Clive Wearing, who was infected with the herpes simplex virus and caused complications in the brain. After this incident, Wearing developed obvious retrograde and anterograde amnesia.However, he retained the ability to play the piano and conduct the choir.

Anterograde amnesia in movies

Several famous movie characters suffer from anterograde amnesia, because short-term memory deficits can lead to some interesting, interesting and suspenseful scenes. Unfortunately, although these movies may be interesting, the true nature of the injury may severely impair human abilities.

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Take the character Leonard Shelby in the movie “Souvenir” as an example. In Memento, although he suffers from anterograde amnesia, when he tries to solve the case, the protagonist still takes notes for himself to keep track. It is said that “Souvenir” is the closest to true anterograde amnesia, especially considering the filming method to reflect the character’s memory impairment.


Although some cases of anterograde amnesia may be temporary, the condition is usually permanent and may get worse over time. If you experience unexplained memory loss symptoms, be sure to seek medical treatment. Your doctor can determine the root cause of your memory loss and recommend appropriate treatments.

There are some strategies to help people with this amnesia:

  • Establish a clear daily life.
  • Create a system to track daily tasks. Summarize your daily tasks, including shopping, money management, meal preparation, appointments, etc. This list should be visible and accessible at all times.
  • Break down daily tasks into smaller steps and check progress.
  • Find a way to mark the passage of time. People with amnesia may forget time and spend hours on the same task. One way to solve this problem is to create a hierarchical chart, record the work that needs to be done for each task, and place it in a visible location. After completing each task, check your progress with a dry erase marker.

Reminders are needed to manage your condition. Techniques can be useful, but even handwritten checklists and other tools can help.

Very good sentence

If you or someone you know has anterograde amnesia, it may be difficult to know how to cope or how to help your loved one. This type of injury can affect daily functions, especially in severe cases. Getting support from family and friends is essential and, if possible, should be part of any treatment plan. If you find that you are struggling to cope with your condition, you may need to adopt new strategies to further treat your disorder.