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Amnestic people with Alzheimer's disease who remembered the Kobe earthquake

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 January 2018

Manabu Ikeda*
Hyogo Institute for Aging Brain and Cognitive Disorders
Etsuro Mori
Hyogo Institute for Aging Brain and Cognitive Disorders
Nobutsugu Hirono
Hyogo Institute for Aging Brain and Cognitive Disorders
Toru Imamura
Hyogo Institute for Aging Brain and Cognitive Disorders
Tatsuo Shimomura
Hyogo Institute for Aging Brain and Cognitive Disorders
Yoshitaka Ikejiri
Hyogo Institute for Aging Brain and Cognitive Disorders
Hikari Yamashita
Hyogo Institute for Aging Brain and Cognitive Disorders
Manabu Ikeda, MD, Department of Neuropsychiatry. Ehime University School of Medicine. Shigenobu. Onsengun Ehime 791-0295. Japan. Tel: 81-89-960-5315. Fax: 81-89-960-5317. e-mail:



Emotional memory is a special category of memory for events arousing strong emotions. To investigate the effects of emotional involvement on memory retention in individuals with Alzheimer's disease we studied peoples' memories of distressing experiences during a devastating earthquake.


Fifty-one subjects with probable Alzheimer's disease who experienced the Kobe earthquake at home in the greater Kobe area were studied. Memories of the earthquake were assessed 6 and 10 weeks after the disaster in semi-structured interviews, and were compared with memories of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination given after the earthquake.


Forty-four (86.3%) of the subjects remembered the earthquake and 16 (31.4%) of subjects remembered the MRI experience. Factual content of the earthquake was lost in most of the subjects.


Fear reinforces memory retention of an episode in subjects with Alzheimer's disease but does not enhance retention of its context, despite repeated exposure to the information.

Copyright © 1998 The Royal College of Psychiatrists 

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See editorial pp. 379–380. this issue.


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