Amnesia: What is Amnesia, Causes of Amnesia (Trauma, Alcohol and ElectroConvulsive Therapy)

Edited by Jamie (ScienceAid Editor), SpellBot, Administrator, Taylor (ScienceAid Editor)

What is Amnesia?

Amnesia is a specific medical condition resulting in memory loss because of brain damage. It isn't just forgetting things. There are two types of amnesia.

  1. 1
    Retrograde Amnesia is memory loss for events before brain damage.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help

  2. 2
    Anterograde Amnesia, which is the other way around - the loss of memory for events after brain damage.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No | I need help


We will now look at some of the causes of amnesia, the reasons for these and research into them. Be aware that there are other factors that cause amnesia aside from those mentioned in this article.

causes of amnesia



Trauma, also called physical trauma means physical injury, and in the case of amnesia it is an injury to the head. For example, brain damage due to a car accident, or severe sports injury during. When you receive a strong blow to the head, it can result in a concussion, which is a brief period of unconsciousness.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Post-Concussion Syndrome

In more severe instances, such as when a pedestrian is struck by a car, the unconsciousness can last for weeks and months. The result of this kind of brain damage from trauma, post-concussion syndrome, also known as postconcussive syndrome or (PCS), can occur. PCS causes dizziness, nausea and blurred vision; and in the long-term: fatigue, anxiety and depression.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Post-Traumatic Amnesia

We call amnesia following trauma: post-traumatic amnesia. Individuals are confused, not sure where they are, and will ask the same questions over and over. Below is a study by Yarnell and Lynch (1970) on the effects of concussion.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Aim To investigate the effects of concussion on memory loss.
Method A field study of American footballers who had been concussed during a game. After regaining consciousness, they were asked about the game just before the trauma. They were asked again between 3 and 20 minutes later.
Results Accurate information was given immediately. Between 3 and 20 minutes later, no information could be given.
Conclusion The trauma has disrupted the process of forming a memory (consolidating a memory trace). It cannot be due to a failure in taking in the information in the first place, as it could be recalled straight after regaining consciousness.


Drinking alcohol does not directly cause amnesia, nor will getting drunk (at least not in a significant way). Amnesia can be caused in alcoholics because they derive most of their nutrition from drink and hence don't eat very much. This results in a Thiamine deficiency which causes Korsakoff's Syndrome. Retrograde and anterograde amnesia are two of the many symptoms.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ETC)

Electron-convulsive therapy (ETC) is sometimes used - more often in the past - to treat depression and other mental illnesses. It works by passing a burst of 100 volts of electricity through the brain for less than a second, intentionally triggering a seizure. The belief is that this burst of electricity causes changes in the brain chemistry that can reverse certain kinds of brain damage. Adversely, it causes headaches and memory loss. Both retrograde and anterograde amnesia (mainly retrograde) occur, however in most cases this is only temporary.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

Friedburg (1977) found it takes 5 to 10 minutes after receiving ETC to remember who you are, where you are and what day it is. And Brody (1944), cited the case of a woman who forgot how to cook familiar dishes following therapy; both are examples of retrograde amnesia.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help

You may wonder why this treatment is used at all considering the side effects and the fact that no one really knows why ETC works - although it is thought to involve stimulating neurotransmitters in the brain. This treatment is usually only considered when drug therapy has failed, and patients suffering from severe depression are willing to try it to get rid of their illness.

Was this helpful? Yes | No | I need help


ScienceAid welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.

Featured Author
166 Articles Started
1,267 Article Edits
42,900 Points
Jamie is a featured author with ScienceAid. Jamie has achieved the level of "Captain" with 42,900 points. Jamie has started 166 articles (including this one) and has also made 1,267 article edits. 8,700 people have read Jamie's article contributions.
Jamie's Message Board
Jamie: Hi, my name is Jamie.
Jamie: Can I help you with your problem about "Amnesia: What is Amnesia, Causes of Amnesia (Trauma, Alcohol and ElectroConvulsive Therapy)"?

Article Info

Categories : Cognition

Recent edits by: Administrator, SpellBot, Jamie (ScienceAid Editor)

Share this Article:

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 21 times.

Do you have a question not answered in this article?
Click here to ask one of the writers of this article

Thank Our Volunteer Authors.

Would you like to give back to the community by fixing a spelling mistake? Yes | No