Autobiographical amnesia and accelerated forgetting in transient epileptic amnesia

F. Manes, K. S. Graham, A. Zeman, M. De Luján Calcagno, J. R. Hodges*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recurrent brief isolated episodes of amnesia associated with epileptiform discharges on EEG recordings have been interpreted as a distinct entity termed transient epileptic amnesia (TEA). Patients with TEA often complain of autobiographical amnesia for recent and remote events, but show normal anterograde memory. Objective: To investigate (a) accelerated long term forgetting and (b) autobiographical memory in a group of patients with TEA. Methods: Seven patients with TEA and seven age matched controls were evaluated on a range of anterograde memory tasks in two sessions separated by 6 weeks and by the Galton-Crovitz test of cued autobiographical memory. Results: Patients with TEA showed abnormal long term forgetting of verbal material, with virtually no recall after 6 weeks. In addition, there was impaired recall of autobiographical memories from the time periods 1985-89 and 1990-94 but not from 1995-1999. Conclusions: TEA is associated with accelerated loss of new information and impaired remote autobiographical memory. There are a number of possible explanations including ongoing subclinical ictal activity, medial temporal lobe damage as a result of seizure, or subtle ischaemic pathology. Future analyses should seek to clarify the relationship between aetiology, seizure frequency, and degree of memory impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1387-1391
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes


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