WHAT IS ANTEROGRADE AMNESIA?
Anterograde amnesia refers to a decreased ability to store new information. This could affect your daily activities. It might also interfere with work and social activities because you may have challenges creating new memories.
Anterograde amnesia is a part of amnesia. In such cases, amnesia (memory loss) has already happened. It is caused by damage to memory-making parts of your brain. In some cases, amnesia might be temporary, but in other cases, it might be permanent. Some types of therapies could help you cope with this type of memory loss.
Proactive, anterograde, and retrograde amnesia
Anterograde amnesia is one of the two main features of amnesia. People with this feature have trouble making new memories based on experiences and information they come across.
The other feature is known as retrograde amnesia. This refers to the inability to recall events and people from your past. It could also cause you to forget well-established daily information, like what time you go to work.
Proactive amnesia is another term used to describe anterograde amnesia.
Amnesia is at times confused with dementia. The latter is a degenerative disease that damages your memory and information about yourself. However, dementia also leads to brain damage that could lead to more cognitive challenges. Such challenges affect everyday functions, like work and playing sports.
Anterograde amnesia deals more particularly with remembering new information. You might already have difficulty with long-term memories at this point
Symptoms of anterograde amnesia mainly affect short-term memory processing. This could cause confusion and frustration. For example, someone with this form of amnesia may forget:
- Someone they have recently met
- A new phone number
- A recent meal
- The names of famous people
- Newly-made changes to a routine, like a school or job changes
Such symptoms differ from those of retrograde amnesia, which might include forgetting information you already knew before the amnesia. For example, you may forget to read a book you have read before. Also, the symptoms of anterograde amnesia occur after you have already started experiencing memory loss.
One 2010 study published in Neuropsychology found that seven out of ten patients with anterograde amnesia were capable of temporarily retaining new information. However, a phenomenon is known as “retroactive interference” occurred. This is when new information intrudes with previously memorized information. For example, you may remember a number but learn a new number shortly after, which cancels out the original information.
In general, amnesia is caused by damage to your brain. This affects memory-making parts of your brain, like the thalamus. Anterograde amnesia tends to happen after you start experiencing some symptoms of the disease, like short-term memory loss. It is caused by certain damages to your brain that lead to differences in the way you retain new information.
An MRI test or a CT scan could help your doctor diagnose the physical causes of anterograde amnesia. These could help them look for changes or damage to the brain.
HOW’S IT TREATED?
Amnesia is the result of brain damage. There are currently no treatments that could essentially cure amnesia, but instead, treatments concentrate on condition management.
Treatment concentrates on therapies and techniques that help improve quality of life. Options include:
- Vitamin B1 supplements, in case of a deficiency.
- Occupational therapy.
- Memory training.
- Technology assistance, like reminder apps.
- There are currently no FDA-approved medicines to treat amnesia.
Your risk for developing any form of amnesia might increase if you have had one or more of the following:
- Brain surgery
- Brain injury
- Brain tumors
- History of alcohol abuse
- Car accident
- Sports-related injuries
- Vitamin B1 deficiency
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
Mild brain injuries might lead to short-term memory loss and your symptoms may improve as your brain heals. Moderate to severe injuries could lead to permanent amnesia.
Amnesia might be permanent. This means that symptoms of anterograde amnesia could worsen over time. However, symptoms could also improve or stay the same, even following a traumatic brain injury.
Certain cases of amnesia are temporary. Known as transient global amnesia, temporary memory loss might improve after an injury or illness. However, anterograde amnesia is most often related to permanent memory loss.
As a rule of thumb, you should always look for medical help for any unexplained memory loss or for recent head injuries. Your doctor could detect any changes in the brain and offer treatment recommendations when appropriate.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from anterograde amnesia, our expert providers at Specialty Care Clinics will take care of your health and help you recover.