Amnesia — Know It All!

Editorial

All you need to know about Memory Loss.

Know your ailment well, so you can manage it better!!

Here we come with Amnesia today!

What is Amnesia?

Amnesia is also known as Memory Loss.

The lack of memory, such as data, knowledge and perceptions, leads to amnesia. While it is a common plot device in films and television to lose your name, that’s not necessarily the case in real-life amnesia.

Instead, persons with amnesia, also referred to as amnestic disease, normally know who they are. They can, though, have difficulty understanding new data and creating new memories.

Amnesia can be caused by disruption to brain regions that are important to the retrieval of memories. Amnesia may be lifelong, unlike a brief episode of memory loss (transient global amnesia).

There is no clear amnesia cure, but memory restoration strategies and social therapy can help people deal with amnesia and their families.

What are the causes of Amnesia?

A variety of areas of the brain are involved in natural memory function. Memory can interact with any condition or accident that affects the brain.

Amnesia may result from damage to the components of the brain that form the limbic system, which governs your memory and emotions. The thalamus, which resides deep within the middle of the brain, and the hippocampal formations, which are found within your brain’s temporal lobes, comprise these components.

Neurological amnesia is known as amnesia caused by brain injury or loss. Possible causes of amnesia in neurology include:

  • Stroke stroke
  • Inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) as a consequence of contact with a virus such as the herpes simplex virus, as an inflammatory response to disease anywhere in the body (paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis), or as an autoimmune reaction in the absence of cancer
  • For example, a loss of enough oxygen in the brain from a heart attack, respiratory distress or poisoning with carbon monoxide
  • Long-term alcohol dependence leads to lack of thiamine (vitamin B-1) (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)
  • Tumors in brain regions that govern memory
  • Such as Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, degenerative brain disorders
  • Convulsions
  • Certain drugs that serve as sedatives, such as benzodiazepines or other medications
  • Head trauma that involves a headache can lead to frustration and difficulties recalling new details, whether from a car crash or sports. In the early stages of healing, this is extremely frequent. Mild brain injuries usually do not cause lifelong amnesia, but permanent amnesia can be caused by more significant head injuries.
  • Emotional shock or trauma, such as being the victim of a violent assault, results in another unusual form of amnesia, called dissociative (psychogenic) amnesia. An individual can lose personal memories and autobiographical details during this illness, but typically only temporarily.

Types of Amnesia:

Two major forms of amnesia are available; anterograde amnesia (inability to construct new memories) and retrograde amnesia (old memories are lost). However, there have also been reports in several other forms of amnesia.

Anterograde Amnesia

Below are the forms of amnesia that neuroscientists are conscious of today.

Anterograde Amnesia

It is a type of amnesia in which the subject is unable to develop new memories. Anything from the past he remembers. He can not, however, maintain a record of the incident that happened following the brain injury.

Hippocampus Function:

A part of the brain present in the medial temporal lobe is the hippocampus. It is active in long-term memory development. The removal of the hippocampus in some cases has been shown to have resulted in an inability to retain new information in long-term or intermediate memory. The memories accumulated in the brain due to hippocampus removal remained intact, though. Therefore, any damage or injury to the hippocampus can result in anterograde amnesia, it is assumed.

Additional causes

Other than the hippocampal injury, anterograde amnesia can also result from certain mother causes. These include stroke, accident, surgery, alcoholism, encephalitis, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, brain anoxia, etc.

It is not possible to treat this form of amnesia through pharmacological management. Patients should, however, be taught to take precautions and improve procedural memory when conducting everyday life tasks. These patients’ friends and families will help them live a happier life.

Retrograde Amnesia

Retrograde Amnesia He may form memories that will stay unchanged of recent events. The experiences stored in the brain due to brain injury are, however, lost. Depending on the extent of the injury, total or partial memory loss can be observed.

When retrograde amnesia happens, as opposed to the distant past, the memories of events in the near past are more affected. This is because of the fact that remote memories have been remembered so many times that their memory trails are profoundly rooted in the brain. In the large regions of the brain, these memories are preserved.

Causes

Due to damage to various parts of the brain other than the hippocampus, retrograde amnesia can occur. Cerebrovascular injuries, coma, brain trauma, alcohol misuse, or substance abuse, etc. may also be induced.

Hippocampus Function:

While anterograde amnesia is caused by damage to the hippocampus, some hippocampal lesions, along with anterograde amnesia, display retrograde amnesia to a limited degree. These two forms of amnesia are partly linked to the hippocampus, reports indicate.

In certain patients, both anterograde and retrograde amnesia will concurrently coexist.

Dissociative Amnesia

It is a transient cause of episodic memory loss characterised by amnesia. From hours to days or even years, one episode of retrograde memory loss can last. Patients are unable to remember their personal knowledge during memory loss periods. Both recent and distant memories are lost.

Dissociative amnesia is an episodic type of memory loss in which there is retrograde amnesia, although there is no anterograde amnesia. Neurological damage to the brain does not contribute to any form of amnesia. Rather, it is attributed to those mental factors. It is, thus, called psychogenic amnesia. This episodic memory dysfunction can be caused by psychological events like emotional tension.

The following are some examples of memory loss found with this form of amnesia:

Patients are unable to remember details about previous painful or unpleasant experiences. That is due to a system of psychological security that prohibits access to data relating to an incident that may have a psychological effect, such as a tragedy.

A transient fugue state can emerge from the psychological trauma. Patients will forget and assume a new identity.

Post-traumatic Amnesia

Post-traumatic Amnesia The trauma can be caused by a traffic crash, falling from a height, a head strike, etc.

Anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia or both can result from damage to the brain. The level of lack of memory depends on the degree of damage. Maybe it’s intermittent or lifelong.

In addition to memory loss, the brain’s other tasks are also impaired. Recovery of other brain functions may be demonstrated by early recovery from amnesia.

Memory loss can range from forgetting recent events to forgetting anything before the trauma, depending on the scope of the trauma. The healing time also relies on the degree of damage done by the brain.

Infantile Amnesia

In adults, where they are unable to remember events from their early childhood, this inability is widely observed. Individuals do not remember incidents that happened from birth to the age of four or five years.

Earlier, psychosexual growth was linked to this disorder. Modern scientists claim, however, that it is due to brain growth at an early age. Moreover, it is often considered to be due to the growth of languages. It is known that in the pre-language period of life, people are unable to remember events that have happened.

Transient Global Amnesia

In middle-aged adults, this type of amnesia can be seen. Patients experience a distinct and reversible lack of retrograde memory function when engaged in a dialogue, marked by repeated questions.

It results from anomalies that can be visualised by some imaging methods such as MRI in the hippocampal region of the brain (magnetic resonance imaging). While the clear cause of this form of amnesia is not yet understood, intermittent cortical blood flow drops, transient headaches, or migraine attacks are due to it.

Patients are unable to remember incidents that took place more than a couple of minutes ago. The recollection of immediate events is maintained, however. Often, patients’ consciousness is maintained. About 4 to 6 hours, memories and natural behaviour also return.

Drug-Induced Amnesia

It is short-term amnesia that certain medications, such as benzodiazepines, induce. The memory forming mechanism in the brain is interacted with by these medications. The patient is unable to remember the incidents that happened while an amnestic substance was under its control. However, the memory mechanism is restored until the drug’s influence is over. Since restoration, no anterograde or retrograde amnesia is seen in the patient.

This procedure is also conducted for medicinal reasons, such as helping the patient forget about the operation, etc. Amnesty narcotics, however, can also be used for unethical gains.

Short-term memory loss for several hours is caused by a drug called flunitrazepam. The patient does not remember anything that happens when this medication is administered. Any persons who began using it as a date rape drug have exploited it. The drug was discontinued by the FDA later on.

Amnesia in Korsakoff’s Syndrome

In pathological alcoholics, Korsakoff syndrome exists. Thiamine deficiency induces the chronic consumption of alcohol (vitamin B1). Thiamine deficiency, owing to malnutrition or poor diet, can also be found in non-alcoholics.

The presence of both anterograde and retrograde amnesia is characterised by this disorder. The patient’s short-term memory is maintained. He can, however, have trouble remembering prior incidents. Immediate memory is impaired as well.

Some other brain dysfunctions are also seen with these disorders, in addition to memory loss. The number one cause of this condition globally is excessive alcohol intake.

Selective Amnesia

Patients lose those parts of their memories in this form of amnesia. They may forget some things that have taken place in their lives, may forget the names of certain people they have met before, may forget the location of some buildings, etc.

This form of amnesia is sometimes used in psychology for medical purposes. Via methods such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), partial amnesia is caused to help people forget certain stressful events that have existed in the past.

Epileptic Amnesia

Epileptic Amnesia A reaction to certain anti-epilepsy medications is known to be a response. It is a rare disorder found only in people who have seizures in the temporal lobe.

What are the symptoms of Amnesia?

The two primary amnesia characteristics are:

  • Difficulty discovering new details after the onset of amnesia (anterograde amnesia)
  • Difficulty recalling past instances and previously familiar details (retrograde amnesia)

Many persons with amnesia have short-term memory issues; they do not remember new information. Latest memories are more likely to be destroyed, although more memories may be spared that are distant or profoundly rooted. Someone may recall childhood memories or know past presidents’ names, but they may not be able to name the new president, know what month it is, or remember what breakfast was.

Isolated memory loss does not affect the intelligence, general perception, knowledge, duration of concentration, reasoning, appearance or identity of an individual. Typically, people with amnesia can understand written and spoken language and can learn skills like bike riding or playing the piano. They may know that they have a memory problem.

Amnesia isn’t similar to dementia. Dementia frequently causes lack of memory, but it often includes other serious cognitive difficulties that contribute to a reduction in everyday activity.

A forgetfulness pattern is also a typical symptom of moderate cognitive impairment (MCI), but MCI recall and other cognitive issues are not as severe as those encountered with dementia.

Extra signs and symptoms

Other signs and symptoms, depending on the cause of the amnesia, can include:

Fake memories (confabulation), either solely fabricated or made up of misplaced true memories of time , disorientation or misunderstanding.

What are the risk factors of Amnesia?

The chance of developing amnesia might increase if you’ve experienced:

  • Brain surgery, head injury or trauma
  • Stroke
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Seizures

What are the complications of Amnesia?

  • Amnesia varies in severity and depth, but everyday tasks and the quality of life are impaired even by moderate amnesia. At college, school and in social environments, the condition can cause difficulties.
  • Recovery of lost memory will not be feasible. In a controlled environment or extended-care home, certain individuals with serious memory issues need to work.

How is Amnesia diagnosed?

A psychiatrist will do a rigorous assessment to detect amnesia to rule out any potential causes of memory loss, such as Alzheimer’s disease, other types of dementia, addiction, or brain tumour.

Medical history

The appraisal continues with a comprehensive medical history. Since the person with memory loss will not be able to supply detailed details, the interview is often normally attended by a family member, acquaintance or another caregiver.

In order to explain the memory disorder, the psychiatrist will ask more questions. Things that must be resolved include:

  • Memory failure type: recent or long-lasting
  • When the memory difficulties begin and how they advanced,
  • Factors behind it, such as a head injury, coma or surgery
  • Family history, particularly of neurological illnesses
  • Usage of medicines and alcohol
  • Such signs and symptoms, such as confusion, language difficulties, changes in personality or diminished capacity for self-care
  • History of seizures, headaches, cancer or depression

Physical test

A neurological test to evaluate reflexes, sensory coordination, equilibrium, and other functional features of the brain and nervous system can be used in the physical evaluation.

Cognitive assessments

The psychiatrist will assess the reasoning, judgement, and recent and long-term memory of the person. He or she may verify the individual’s comprehension of general knowledge, such as the new president’s identity, as well as personal information and past events. It is also possible for the doctor to ask the client to repeat a series of words.

The memory assessment can help evaluate the level of memory loss and offer insights into what type of assistance the person will require.

Diagnostic examinations

The physician may order:

  • Imaging scans to screen for brain injury or anomalies, including an MRI and CT scan
  • To screen for infection, dietary deficiency or other complications, blood checks
  • An electroencephalogram to verify that seizure disorder is present

What is the treatment for Amnesia?

Amnesia therapy focuses on approaches and techniques that better compensate for the problem with recollection and fix the potential diseases that induce amnesia.

Occupational therapy

In order to learn new information to replace what was missed, or to use intact memories as a basis for taking in new information, a person with amnesia may collaborate with an occupational therapist.

Memory preparation can also provide multiple knowledge organisation approaches to make it easier to recall and to enhance the comprehension of prolonged discourse.

Technological assistance

The use of smart devices, such as a smartphone or a hand-held tablet computer, is useful for many people with amnesia. And persons with extreme amnesia may use these automated organisers with some preparation and experience to assist with day-to-day activities. Smartphones may, for instance, be configured to inform them of major events or to take prescriptions.

Notebooks, wall calendars, pill minders, and photos of persons and locations provide low-tech recall aids.

Medications or supplements

For the management of most cases of amnesia, no drugs are presently available.

Thiamin deficiency is implicated in amnesia caused by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Treatment requires replacing and supplying adequate nutrients with this vitamin. While therapy will help avoid further injury, it still needs to include alcohol withdrawal, most individuals will not restore all of their lost memory.

The analysis could one day contribute to new memory loss therapies. Yet it is unlikely that a single drug would be able to overcome memory issues because of the complexities of the brain mechanisms involved.

References:

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https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/amnesia/symptoms-causes/syc-20353360

https://human-memory.net/amnesia/

https://www.healthline.com/health/amnesia

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9673