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By C. W. M. Whitty and O. L. Zangwill (Eds.)

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Extra resources for Amnesia. Clinical, Psychological and Medicolegal Aspects

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Nevertheless some distinctions, albeit only approximate, can be made and would justify comparison of the performance of different types of amnesic patient. The alcoholic Korsakoff state typically involves the mammillary bodies and the thalamus but not the hippocampus, whereas certain cases of herpes encephalitis particularly affect various structures within the limbic system including the hippocampal formation. Although in nonfatal cases (the only ones in which amnesia can be studied) the type of encephalitis may be in serious doubt, nevertheless it does seem reasonable to suggest that Korsakoff patients and amnesic postencephalitic patients should be studied separately and systematically compared.

Only one of their three postencephalitic patients could be brought to a standard criterion of learning during the acquisition stage but when tested four minutes later, this patient showed defective memory for the positions compared o - — _ __ -•"°"~ - ■a■" " -*"*— Korsakoff pictures Control pictures Korsakoff frequent words Control frequent words Korsakoff rare words Control rare words Figure 10. Mean percent correct responses by Korsakoff and control groups on yes-no recognition tests of pictures, high-frequency words and low-frequency words as a function of retention interval.

The possible role of imagery in facilitating amnesic memory has received attention in three different experiments. Baddeley and Warrington (1973) examined amnesics' and controls' memory for words when these were grouped according to (a) phonemic similarity, (b) membership of taxonomic category and (c) relevance to a composite visual image described by the experimenter. In the version involving visual imagery, four words were presented visually and linked together by a short spoken sentence describing a scene which the subject was instructed to visualize.

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