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What does a comparison of the alcoholic Korsakoff syndrome and thalamic infarction tell us about thalamic amnesia?

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-56
Number of pages11
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Early online date16 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


King's Authors


In this review, the clinical, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging findings in the alcoholic Korsakoff syndrome and in thalamic amnesia, resulting from focal infarction, are compared. In both disorders, there is controversy over what is the critical site for anterograde amnesia to occur—damage to the anterior thalamus/mammillo-thalamic tract has most commonly been cited, but damage to the medio-dorsalnuclei has also been advocated. Both syndromes show ‘core’ features of an anterograde amnesic syndrome; but retrograde amnesia is generally much more extensive (going back many years or decades) in the Korsakoff syndrome. Likewise, spontaneous confabulation occurs more commonly in the Korsakoff syndrome, although seen in only a minority of chronic cases. These differences are attributed to the greater prevalence of frontal atrophy and frontal damage in Korsakoff cases.

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