Spotlight on Korsakoff syndrome

In this clinical summary, Dr. Alfredo Ardila of Florida International University discusses Korsakoff syndrome, which is marked by remote memory impairment together with characteristic profound anterograde memory deficits. Korsakoff syndrome is directly linked to a deficiency of thiamine. It is most commonly associated with chronic alcohol abuse. Korsakoff syndrome has also been described in the context of a number of other disorders that cause malnutrition or malabsorption. Head traumas with bilateral lesions of the limbic circuit may result in a memory disorder similar to the Korsakoff disease but frequently referred as of “Korsakowian syndrome” or “mental syndrome of Korsakoff.” Amnesia in Korsakoff syndrome could be the expression of damage to an extended brain memory system. An inherited insensitivity to thiamine has been proposed as a risk factor for alcoholism and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Successful treatment is infrequent and memory impairment may remain stable.

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