Focal retrograde amnesia: Extending the clinical syndrome of transient epileptic amnesia

Michael Hornberger, Armin Mohamed, Laurie Miller, John Watson, Zoe Thayer, John R. Hodges

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26 Citations (Scopus)


A 44-year-old woman presented with focal retrograde amnesia and complaints of rapid forgetting in the absence of episodes of transient cognitive disturbance. Her MRI and 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) were normal. On standard neuropsychological tests she performed within the normal range although a test of autobiographical memory confirmed impoverished recall especially involving recent life events. The electroencephalograph (EEG) recordings were suggestive of temporal lobe epilepsy but no clear diagnosis was established. After 4 years the patient's recurrent brief episodes of disorientation, suggestive of transient epileptic amnesia (TEA), were corroborated by her sister. This diagnosis was confirmed by an ambulatory EEG that revealed ictal activity. Several important points emerge from this study. Focal retrograde amnesia can be a prodromal symptom of TEA which can precede the full-blown syndrome by several years. Moreover, transient attacks might not be reported if patients live alone. The ictal EEG findings further substantiate the epileptic nature of the syndrome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1319-1321
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Neuroscience
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • Autobiographical memory
  • Ictal epileptic activity
  • Prodromal TEA
  • Retrograde amnesia
  • Transient epileptic amnesia

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