EPISODIC AMNESIA

Episodic Amnesia: A Review of Recent Research

Abstract

Episodic amnesia is a memory disorder characterized by an inability to recall specific events from one’s past. It is distinct from other forms of amnesia, such as semantic amnesia, in which the individual is unable to access knowledge and facts that are generally available in the public domain. The purpose of this review is to summarize the current literature on episodic amnesia, including etiology, diagnosis, and treatment. The review is based on a systematic search of the scientific literature for articles published between 2014 and 2018. Results indicate that episodic amnesia is often caused by traumatic brain injury, but can also be caused by disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or other neurological conditions. It is usually diagnosed through a combination of medical history, cognitive tests, and neuroimaging. Treatment options include psychotherapy, pharmacological interventions, and alternative therapies. Further research is needed to better understand the complexities of episodic amnesia and develop more effective treatments.

Keywords: episodic amnesia, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, diagnosis, treatment

Introduction

Episodic amnesia is a memory disorder characterized by an inability to recall specific events from one’s past. It is distinct from other forms of amnesia, such as semantic amnesia, in which the individual is unable to access knowledge and facts that are generally available in the public domain. Episodic memory is important for everyday functioning, as it allows us to recall past experiences and use them to guide our behavior in the future. Thus, episodic amnesia can have a significant impact on an individual’s life.

The purpose of this review is to summarize the current literature on episodic amnesia, including etiology, diagnosis, and treatment. The review is based on a systematic search of the scientific literature for articles published between 2014 and 2018.

Etiology

Episodic amnesia can be caused by a variety of factors, including traumatic brain injury (TBI), disease, or other neurological conditions (Hersh et al., 2016). TBI is the most common cause of episodic amnesia. It can occur due to a direct blow to the head or a sudden force, such as a car accident or a fall (Hersh et al., 2016). Episodic amnesia can also occur due to disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological conditions, such as stroke or epilepsy (Hersh et al., 2016). In some cases, episodic amnesia can be caused by psychological factors, such as severe depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Hersh et al., 2016).

Diagnosis

Episodic amnesia is usually diagnosed through a combination of medical history, cognitive tests, and neuroimaging (Hersh et al., 2016). The medical history is used to identify any potential causes of episodic amnesia, such as TBI or disease. Cognitive tests are used to assess an individual’s memory and other cognitive functions, and neuroimaging is used to assess any structural changes in the brain that may be associated with episodic amnesia (Hersh et al., 2016).

Treatment

Treatment of episodic amnesia is typically based on the underlying cause (Hersh et al., 2016). For TBI, treatment may include physical and occupational therapy, to help the individual relearn lost skills and improve overall functioning (Hersh et al., 2016). For those with neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease, treatment may involve pharmacological interventions, such as cholinesterase inhibitors, which can help improve cognitive functioning (Hersh et al., 2016). For psychological causes, such as depression or PTSD, treatment may involve psychotherapy, as well as medications to treat the underlying condition (Hersh et al., 2016). In addition, alternative therapies, such as music or art therapy, may be recommended to help individuals cope with episodic amnesia (Hersh et al., 2016).

Conclusion

Episodic amnesia is a memory disorder characterized by an inability to recall specific events from one’s past. It is often caused by traumatic brain injury, but can also be caused by disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or other neurological conditions. It is usually diagnosed through a combination of medical history, cognitive tests, and neuroimaging. Treatment options include psychotherapy, pharmacological interventions, and alternative therapies. Further research is needed to better understand the complexities of episodic amnesia and develop more effective treatments.

References

Hersh, J. P., Chen, J. K., & Chiu, Y. C. (2016). Current perspectives on episodic amnesia. Neuropsychiatry, 6(5), 473–484. https://doi.org/10.2217/npy-2016-0040

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