Common Causes of Amnesia

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Traumatic brain injury

Korsakoff's syndrome (thiamine deficiency associated with chronic alcoholism)

Viral encephalitis

Anoxia or hypoxia

Surgery on the temporal lobes of the brain to control epilepsy Blockage of the posterior cerebral artery

Rupture or clipping of the anterior communicating artery (surgery for aneurysm)

Paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis (associated with cancer)

kinds of brain infections (such as viral encephalitis), and paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis associated with cancer. People with medial temporal amnesia forget information very soon after encountering it but generally have intact attention, insight, and overall intellectual function.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for severe depression can cause transient amnesia by disturbing the function of medial temporal structures. But ECT does not permanently damage the structures and the amnesia tends to diminish over time.

Diencephalic amnesia can be caused by Korsakoff's syndrome (the result of a thiamine deficiency associated with chronic alcoholism), as well as by other nutritional deficiencies, traumatic brain injury, stroke, or a tumor that damages the thalamus. This type of amnesia includes deficits in executive function and insight.

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