Visual memory-deficit amnesia: a distinct amnesic presentation and etiology.
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We describe a form of amnesia, which we have called visual memory-deficit amnesia, that is caused by damage to areas of the visual system that store visual information. Because it is caused by a deficit in access to stored visual material and not by an impaired ability to encode or retrieve new material, it has the otherwise infrequent properties of a more severe retrograde than anterograde amnesia with no temporal gradient in the retrograde amnesia. Of the 11 cases of long-term visual memory loss found in the literature, all had amnesia extending beyond a loss of visual memory, often including a near total loss of pretraumatic episodic memory. Of the 6 cases in which both the severity of retrograde and anterograde amnesia and the temporal gradient of the retrograde amnesia were noted, 4 had a more severe retrograde amnesia with no temporal gradient and 2 had a less severe retrograde amnesia with a temporal gradient.
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My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.
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