7. Remote Memory
What is Being Tested?
Memory can be impaired on many different timescales. Impaired ability to register and recall something within a few seconds after it was said is an abnormality that blends into the category of impaired attention discussed earlier. If immediate recall is intact, then difficulty with recall after about 1 to 5 minutes usually signifies damage to the limbic memory structures located in the medial temporal lobes and medial diencephalon (see Neuroanatomy Through Clinical Cases 3e, Chapter 18). Dysfunction of these structures causes two characteristic forms of amnesia, which usually coexist. Anterograde amnesia is difficulty remembering new facts and events occurring after lesion onset, and retrograde amnesia is impaired memory of events for a period of time immediately before lesion onset, with relative sparing of earlier memories. Loss of memory that does not fit the typical anterograde/retrograde pattern may signify damage to areas other than the medial temporal and medial diencephalic structures and can also occur in psychogenic amnesia.