Amnesia refers to the loss of memories, such as facts, information and experiences. Though having no sense of who you are is a common plot device in movies and television, real-life amnesia generally doesn't cause a loss of self-identity.
Instead, people with amnesia — also called amnestic syndrome — are usually lucid and know who they are, but may have trouble learning new information and forming new memories.
Amnesia can be caused by damage to areas of the brain that are vital for memory processing. Unlike a temporary episode of memory loss (transient global amnesia), amnesia can be permanent.
There's no specific treatment for amnesia, but techniques for enhancing memory and psychological support can help people with amnesia and their families cope.
Oct. 11, 2011
- Amnesias. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merck.com/mmpe/print/sec16/ch210/ch210c.html. Accessed June 23, 2011.
- Davis PH. Transient global amnesia. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 6, 2011.
- Simon RP, et al. Disorders of cognitive function. In: Simon RP, et al. Clinical Neurology. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=5143601. Accessed June 23, 2011.
- Miller BL, et al. Memory loss. In: Fauci AS, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Medical; 2008. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2885255. Accessed June 23, 2011.
- Svoboda E, et al. Compensating for anterograde amnesia: A new training method that capitalizes on emerging smartphone technologies. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. 2009;15:629.