Temporal gradients in the retrograde amnesia of patients with alcoholic Korsakoff's disease

M S Albert, N Butters, J Levin
Archives of Neurology 1979, 36 (4): 211-6
Eleven alcoholic patients with Korsakoff's disease and 15 control subjects were given three tests of retrograde amnesia. The first consisted of photographs of famous faces from the past, the second was a recall test of famous people and events, and the third was a multiple-choice questionnaire. To determine whether previously reported temporal gradients (ie, preservation of remote events) were related to item difficulty, half of the questions dealt with events of transient fame while half concerned subjects that continued to receive public attention for many years. The findings indicate that alcoholic patients with Korsakoff's disease have a marked retrograde amnesia that is characterized by a steep temporal gradient, and that this gradient is not an artifact due to the difficulty of the questions or the method of testing.

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