Amnesia is a clinical disorder which causes loss of memory about events, personal experiences and sometimes affects even normal cognitive functions of an individual. Amnesia can be caused by organic factors which results from conditions such as stroke, tumor, infection and degenerative diseases or functional factors which arises from traumatic psychological experiences. There are various categories of amnesia that can affect an individual. The most commonly seen clinical cases of amnesia include anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia, localized amnesia, dissociative amnesia, selective amnesia and global transient amnesia.
Lacunar amnesia is a type of localized amnesia which results in partial loss of memory about certain isolated experiences. Individuals experiencing lacunar amnesia completely loses memory about specific events. Another fact is that, people with lacunar amnesia can understand written and spoken words and can also learn new skills. The condition of lacunar amnesia doesn’t affect a person’s intelligence, general knowledge, personality or identity.
Limbic system is generally called the ‘seat of emotions’ in the brain. This part of the brain is responsible for emotions and memories. Damage to this area leaves a lacuna, or a gap in the cortex region of the brain and it is known to be the major cause of lacunar amnesia.
Generally, amnesia can be diagnosed by a doctor or a neurologist. Patients with amnesia should be accompanied by family or caregivers since they will have difficulty in answering the questions of the doctor due to loss of memory of past events. Doctors may order for various diagnostic tests like and MRI or CT scans to check brain damages.
For treatment of amnesia, determining the cause of the disorder is of prime importance. Treatment procedures vary according to the severity of the condition. Several conditions of amnesia can be treated with the help of psychotherapy, detoxification, medications, occupational therapy etc. Some mild type of amnesia resolves without treatment over time. Whereas, some other types of amnesia are incurable even though the medications may last for a lifetime.
As amnesia results from brain damage, certain preventive measures can be followed to avoid conscious accidents and mishaps to the head region of our body. They are-
- Wearing helmets while driving two wheelers.
- Minimizing alcohol usage.
- Treating infections quickly so that it does not spread to the brain region.
- Seeking immediate medical treatment if symptoms of stroke like headaches or paralysis occurs.
Moscovitch, M. (2004). Amnesia. International encyclopedia of the social and behavioral sciences.
Miller Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health, 7th ed. (2003)