Anterograde Amnesia

An anterograde amnesia is characterized in that the storage capacity or memory for new events from the time of disease or brain injury exposes completely or is at least very much reduced. Anterograde amnesia is caused either by lesions in certain brain regions or by degenerative processes of the neurons in certain brain regions.

What is anterograde amnesia?

As a rule, those affected can no longer memorize new events and suffer from a significantly reduced ability to remember and store new information.

In the narrower sense of the word, anterograde amnesia is a memory disorder for new events that are worth remembering from the time of the illness or injury that caused them. This means that events that occurred after the occurrence of the anterograde amnesia can no longer be memorized retrograde, i.e. that occurred in the past.

According to besteducationschools, the most well-known diseases that gradually or progressively lead to anterograde amnesia are all forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease. Usually you cannew Events worth saving can only be saved for a few seconds to a few minutes.

Amnesia primarily affects the episodic memory, in which all available sensory impressions of an event are stored together. The motor memory, in which the skills for complex movements such as upright walking can be stored and unconsciously accessed, are often initially unaffected by amnesia .

Causes

Three different causal complexes can trigger anterograde or retrograde amnesia. The first complex of causes concerns neurodegenerative disease processes, in the course of which degradation processes damage certain nerve areas in the brain, which are always associated with functional restrictions or even total loss of function.

The functional restrictions are not only expressed by anterograde amnesia, but also always by symptoms of dementia. One of the most well-known neurodegenerative diseases is diseaseAlzheimer. Even meningitis (meningitis) and inflammation of the nerve cells in the brain ( encephalitis ) may be the cause of amnesia.

The second complex of causes concerns lesions that affect certain brain regions in head injuries or strokes and can lead to an irreversible total loss of episodic memory. Anterograde amnesia is usually associated with a lesion of the two hippocampi. These are brain structures that are located in the two temporal lobes. However, some nuclei in the diencephalon are also important for storing and recalling memories.

If their function is impaired, for example by a stroke, anterograde amnesia can set in, although the memory location is not affected. A third complex of causes for amnesia are strong psychological experiences that can lead to temporary or persistent amnesia.

Neurotoxins play a special role, and depending on the type and dose, they can cause a wide range of reversible or irreversible damage to the cranial nerves. In some cases, neurotoxins are even used medicinally.

Symptoms, ailments & signs

This disease is fraught with serious ailments. As a rule, those affected can no longer memorize new events and suffer from a significantly reduced ability to remember and store new information. Due to the damage in the brain, the disease can often no longer be treated, so that the patient depends on the help of other people in his life and there are significant restrictions in the patient’s quality of life.

Even simple information and cannot be saved, which can complicate everyday life. The disease is often associated with epilepsy , although it can also arise from a tumor or hemorrhage. The person concerned often also suffers from psychological complaints or depression , whereby parents, relatives or children can often also be affected by these.

Often the patient’s ability to speak is severely reduced as a result of the disease . Those affected can no longer easily take part in conversations and can no longer remember simple words. The information on one’s own family can no longer be fully accessed either. Furthermore, the loss of information can also put the patient in dangerous situations.

Diagnosis & course

A suspicion of anterograde amnesia is usually expressed by the fact that newly occurring events or certain, frequently used words and terms are no longer remembered. For an initial assessment, it is important to have a detailed discussion with the doctor (anamnesis), in which a relative should also take part if necessary. Simple standardized memory tests are available to quantify any anterograde amnesia that may be present.

In the positive case, it should be clarified during the anamnesis, if possible, whether the anterograde memory loss suddenly set in after a certain event or whether it is a gradual course. A well-founded medical history leads to the first suspicions about a possible cause of the amnesia. It can then blood tests connect that point to possible pathogens of encephalitis or meningitis or possible intoxication.

Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) can provide information to clarify the blood flow situation in the brain. Together with the measurement of the brain waves ( EEG ), indications of epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease can arise. Other imaging methods such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRT) allow conclusions to be drawn about the presence of hemorrhages , tumors or other injuries.

Complications

Anterograde amnesia can severely restrict a patient’s everyday life and thereby reduce the quality of life. As a rule, the person concerned has very little or no memory of events that occurred after a particular accident. This severely restricts life. The person concerned is dependent on the help of other people.

The ability to speak is also restricted because the patient can no longer remember different words. This also includes the names or other data of friends or family. Often it is also not possible for the patient to remember their own address, which is why they are dependent on outside help.

If the amnesia is caused by a tumor disease, some complications can arise from it. A complete cure is not possible in every case. In meningitis, the pathogens are fought with medication, so that the amnesia is greatly reduced and there are usually no further complications.

If this is already advanced, it can at least be stopped. Most of the time, treatments are also used to reduce stress and relax in order to activate the damaged areas in the brain and promote function.

When should you go to the doctor?

In most cases, this disease is diagnosed directly by a doctor when there is an injury to the brain. The affected person can no longer speak correctly and suffers from difficulty finding words. Memory problems or difficulties with simple thinking tasks can also indicate the disease, although a visit to the doctor is definitely necessary. Especially with a complete memory loss, the patient should consult a doctor to avoid further consequential damage.

This is also the case if the person has epilepsy or has had an epileptic fit. Impairments of concentration or coordination can also indicate a serious injury to the brain that requires treatment by a doctor. In most cases, the symptoms cannot be restricted, so that the person affected is dependent on the help of other people in their everyday lives.

It cannot be predicted whether this will lead to a positive course of the disease. However, various therapies can limit some symptoms. The earlier treatment for this disease begins, the higher the chances of a cure.

Treatment & Therapy

Treatment of anterograde amnesia is primarily aimed at curing or ameliorating the underlying disease that is causing it. For example, in the case of meningitis or encephalitis, the pathogens, usually viruses, must be fought. In the positive case, anterograde amnesia can improve again or the progressive course can at least be stopped.

In the presence of hemorrhages in the brain or recognizable tumors, the first goal of therapy is to reduce the mechanical pressure on the surrounding nerve tissue by eliminating the hemorrhage and by eliminating the tumor. By physically relieving the nervous tissue, an anterograde amnesia can also be stopped in its progressive course and possibly even improved again.

In the case of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, drug therapies are usually used, which slow down the progressive course of the disease. If there are lesions in the brain due to an accident or if certain nerve areas fail due to a stroke, functionality is usually not restored. Since these cases are singular events, the functional impairment that has occurred usually shows a static course.

Any therapies aim to compensate for the impairment of function by activating and training other areas of the brain, so that an overall improvement occurs. In many cases, relaxation training, stress reduction , autogenic training, and muscle relaxation exercises also have a positive effect on anterograde amnesia.

Outlook & forecast

In some patients, anterograde amnesia can be overcome with targeted training of the short-term memory. It is helpful to reactivate certain memories. The procedure depends on the underlying disease and the cooperation of the person concerned.

In the event of traumatic experiences or slight bleeding, after a period of therapy there is the possibility that the usual skills will return and new memories will be acquired. The chances of a cure for anterograde amnesia, which are based on severe lesions in the brain, are less optimistic at the present time.

Medical advances often allow the symptoms to be alleviated. The damage to the brain is considered irreparable and cannot be cured. Despite various test procedures and different therapy methods, it has not yet been possible to repair damaged brain tissue or to replace it successfully and functionally.

Depending on the cause of the brain damage, there may be an increase in symptoms. The functionality of other cortical areas can be restricted. In the worst case, all memories, the activity of the short-term memory and the working memory come to a standstill. In some patients with anterograde amnesia, it has been shown that, despite the disease, new memories were built up for a period longer than a few minutes. However, the contents of consciousness are minimal and can still be forgotten in a few days.

Prevention

The most important preventive measures to avoid anterograde amnesia consist in a healthy lifestyle in which phases of stress can alternate with phases of relaxation, so that there is a balanced relationship between the degree of activation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

Aftercare

In the case of this disease, there are usually no or very few measures or options for follow-up care available to those affected. First and foremost, the disease must be properly recognized and treated by a doctor so that there are no further complications or complaints. The earlier the diagnosis is made, the better the further course of the disease will usually be.

However, since a complete cure is not possible, only a purely symptomatic treatment can take place. In order not to aggravate the symptoms of this disease unnecessarily, the person affected should refrain from consuming alcohol and tobacco. The treatment itself can be done by taking medication.

Those affected are dependent on the correct dosage and regular intake so that the symptoms are permanently alleviated. However, much damage to the brain is irreparable, so it cannot always be improved. In serious cases, those affected depend on the help and support of their own family or friends. Most of the time, this disease also reduces the life expectancy of those affected.

You can do that yourself

If the anterograde amnesia is due to an infectious disease such as meningitis or encephalitis , the patient can help treat the underlying disease. In these cases, it is particularly helpful to strengthen the body’s defenses. First and foremost, a healthy lifestyle contributes to this.

Sufficient sleep, a vitamin-rich , predominantly plant-based diet and regular exercise in the fresh air are important. In the naturopathy also the active ingredients of the red are coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) are used. The intake of ascorbic acid ( vitamin C ) is also recommended .

If the anterograde amnesia is due to other causes, the patient usually cannot contribute to the treatment of the underlying disease himself. In the case of neurodegenerative disorders, attempts can be made to compensate for the reduced function of the brain by activating and training other, unaffected, areas of the brain. Also, relaxation exercises , particularly autogenous training can positively influence the anterograde amnesia.

In order to cope better with memory loss in everyday life, those affected should get used to recording everything that is important promptly. Tape recordings are simpler and more practical than notepads, and almost all modern cell phones have a dictation function. In addition, there are inexpensive and high-quality dictation machines the size of memory sticks that can be taken anywhere. For legal reasons, conversations with third parties should not be started without their knowledge.

Anterograde amnesia