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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the different types of amnesia?

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    Dr Nicholas Bradfield

    Clinical Neuropsychologist, Psychologist

    Dr Bradfield is a Clinical Neuropsychologist working in private practice and in the public health system in Melbourne, Australia. He has clinical experience conducting neuropsychological … View Profile

    Amnesia is a severe disorder of memory. It is usually categorised into two main types:

    1. Anterograde amnesia: difficulty creating new memories and learning new information. People sometimes refer to this as short-term memory problems.
    2. Reterograde amnesia: difficulty remembering information from the past before an insult (eg trauma or infection). There is usually a temporal gradient such that information learned just before the insult is more likely to be lost than information from years ago.
    These may exist together in the same person or indpendently.

    Another type of amnesia is Transient Global Amnesia.  This is a relatively rare condition where a person has quite severe amnesia for a limited amount of time.  The person may forget their name, spouse, date of birth etc.  The exact mechanism remains speculative, but cerebrovascular causes have been proposed as a possibility. 

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