Is organic amnesia caused by a selective deficit in remembering contextual information?

Mayes, AR; Meudell, PR and Pickering, Alan. 1985. Is organic amnesia caused by a selective deficit in remembering contextual information? Cortex, 21(2), pp. 167-202. ISSN 0010-9452 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

An influential view of amnesia is that the recognition and recall failure is a consequence of a selective loss of memory for contextual, rather than target, information. The various forms of this viewpoint are outlined and one is consid ered in more detail. This hypothesis claims that amnesics suffer from a selective inability to remember background context i.e. spatiotemporal or extrinsic context. The evidence cited in support of this hypothesis is then critically reviewed and assessed in relation to two methodological problems. The first problem shows that when weak amnesic memory is compared with good normal memory qualitative differences in contextual memory may arise artef actually. The second problem is that contextual memory deficits, found in amnesics, may be incidental consequences of frontal cortex damage rather than essential to the core memory deficit. In the light of these problems it is concluded that currently there is no convincing support for the contextual memory deficit hypothesis of amnesia. Finally, guidelines are laid down which should enable the hypothesis to be more appropriately assessed, and an alternative kind of hypothesis is briefly outlined.

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June 1985Published

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20 Mar 2015 15:20

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04 Jul 2017 10:31

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