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Knowledge of New English vocabulary in amnesia: An examination of premorbidly acquired semantic memory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2009

Mieke Verfaellie
Affiliation:
Memory Disorders Research Center, Boston University School of Medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Boston, MA 02130
Lisa Reiss
Affiliation:
Memory Disorders Research Center, Boston University School of Medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Boston, MA 02130
Heidi L. Roth
Affiliation:
Memory Disorders Research Center, Boston University School of Medicine and Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Boston, MA 02130

Abstract

To assess if amnesics have intact remote memory for general semantic information, we examined memory for vocabulary words with known dates of entry into the language between 1955 and 1989. Amnesics of mixed etiology with acute onset performed normally on both a recall and a recognition task. Korsakoff patients, in contrast, were impaired on both tasks and demonstrated a gradient such that their knowledge of words acquired during more recent time periods was worse than that of words acquired during more remote time periods. The improvement in performance associated with recognition testing was larger for Korsakoff patients than for control subjects and correlated significantly with a composite measure of frontal dysfunction. These findings suggest a deficit in the controlled search and retrieval of semantic information in Korsakoff patients. The implications of the differential performance of Korsakoff and mixed etiology amnesics for explanations of temporally graded retrograde amnesia are discussed. (JINS, 1995, I, 443–453.)

Type
Research Articles
Copyright
Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 1995

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