Amnesia, Hypoxia, Hippocampus, Basal forebrain, Memory, Attention


Human anterograde amnesia can develop following bilateral damage to the hippocampus and medial temporal lobes, as in hypoxic brain injury, or following damage to the basal forebrain, as following anterior communicating artery (ACoA) aneurysm rupture. In both cases, the mnestic deficit may be similar when assessed by standard neuropsychological measures. However, animal and computational models suggest that there are qualitative differences in the pattern of impaired and spared memory abilities following damage to hippocampus versus basal forebrain. Here, we show such a dissociation in human amnesia using a single two-stage task, involving conditional discrimination and reversal. Consistent with a prior study, 10 individuals with anterograde amnesia subsequent to hypoxic brain injury were spared on acquisition but impaired at reversal. However, 10 individuals with amnesia subsequent to ACoA aneurysm showed the opposite pattern of impaired acquisition but spared reversal. The differences between groups cannot be easily ascribed to severity of mnestic or cognitive deficit, since the two amnesic groups performed similarly on neuropsychological tests of memory, intelligence and attention. The results illustrate qualitative differences in memory impairments in hypoxic and ACoA amnesics and highlight the importance of considering etiology in evaluating mnemonic deficits in amnesic populations.

Original Publication Citation

187) Myers CE, DeLuca J, Hopkins RO, Gluck MA. (2006). Conditional discrimination and reversal in amnesia subsequent to hypoxic brain inj

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date







Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

Included in

Psychology Commons