Profound amnesia and confabulation following traumatic brain injury

J A Demery, R E Hanlon, R M Bauer
Neurocase 2001, 7 (4): 295-302
Amnesia and confabulation may persist following acute aneurysmal hemorrhage of the anterior communicating artery, chronic alcoholic Korsakoff's syndrome, and late-stage dementia of the Alzheimer type. However, there is a paucity of information regarding the persistence of these symptoms following traumatic brain injury. We present the case of JL, a 43-year-old male with persistent and severe anterograde amnesia for verbal and visual information with co-occurring provoked confabulation which persists well into the chronic phase of recovery after a severe traumatic brain injury. Neuropsychological testing at 7 weeks post-injury demonstrated severe anterograde amnesia with co-occurring confabulation. Follow-up testing at 9.5 months post-injury showed persistent and severe anterograde amnesia and provoked confabulation despite superior non-verbal intelligence and above average attentional and perceptual abilities. Late computed tomography showed chronic hypodense regions in the temporal lobes, bilaterally (L > R), and in the region of the left ventrolateral frontal lobe. This case demonstrates that anterograde amnesia and provoked confabulation may persist long after the acute phase of recovery after traumatic brain injury, and also supports previous research which asserts that medial temporal lobe damage must be accompanied by ventral frontal lobe pathology to produce the amnestic-confabulatory syndrome.

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