The impairment of recollection in functional amnesic states

Markowitsch HJ, Staniloiu A (2013)
Cortex 49(6): 1494-1510.

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Zeitschriftenaufsatz | Veröffentlicht | Englisch
Abstract / Bemerkung
Introduction: Functional amnesia refers to various forms of amnesia, which have no direct organic brain basis. Psychological stress and trauma were etiologically linked to its development across various cultures. Methods: We have studied several patients With functional amnesia, employing neuropsychological and neuroimaging methods. Herein we provide a review of the current understanding of the phenomenology, neuropsychology and neurobiology of functional amnesia, which we illustrate by reference to five own case descriptions and other cases presented in the literature. Results: Functional amnesia is mostly of retrograde nature and presents in the form of a memory blockade or repression to recollect episodic-autobiographical events, which may cover the whole past life. Sometimes, the recollection impairment is localized to certain time epochs. In comparison to functional retrograde amnesia, functional isolated anterograde amnesia is much rarer and data on its neurobiology are scant. In patients with functional amnesia with pronounced retrograde episodic-autobiographical memory impairments, we identified changes in brain metabolism, above all reductions in the temporo-frontal regions of the right hemisphere. Recently, even subtle structural changes in the white matter of the (right) frontal cortex were described in functional retrograde amnesia by other researchers Conclusions: The disruption in recollection in functional amnesia is often accompanied by changes in personality dimensions, pertaining to cognition (self-related processing, theory of mind), autonoetic consciousness and affectivity. This suggests that functional amnesia is a multifaceted condition. We hypothesize that the recollection deficit in functional retrograde amnesia primarily reflects a desynchronization between a frontal lobe system, important for autonoetic consciousness, and a temporo-amygdalar system, important for evaluation and emotions. Despite assumptions that functional amnesia can always be reversed, several cases of functional amnesia were found to follow a chronic course, suggesting a need for longitudinal prospective studies to quantify possible global cognitive deterioration over time and its neural underpinnings. (C) 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Markowitsch HJ, Staniloiu A. The impairment of recollection in functional amnesic states. Cortex. 2013;49(6):1494-1510.
Markowitsch, H. J., & Staniloiu, A. (2013). The impairment of recollection in functional amnesic states. Cortex, 49(6), 1494-1510. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2012.05.020
Markowitsch, H. J., and Staniloiu, A. (2013). The impairment of recollection in functional amnesic states. Cortex 49, 1494-1510.
Markowitsch, H.J., & Staniloiu, A., 2013. The impairment of recollection in functional amnesic states. Cortex, 49(6), p 1494-1510.
H.J. Markowitsch and A. Staniloiu, “The impairment of recollection in functional amnesic states”, Cortex, vol. 49, 2013, pp. 1494-1510.
Markowitsch, H.J., Staniloiu, A.: The impairment of recollection in functional amnesic states. Cortex. 49, 1494-1510 (2013).
Markowitsch, Hans J., and Staniloiu, Angelica. “The impairment of recollection in functional amnesic states”. Cortex 49.6 (2013): 1494-1510.

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