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Retrograde Personal Semantic Memory During Post-Traumatic Amnesia and Following Emergence

Retrograde Personal Semantic Memory During Post-Traumatic Amnesia and Following Emergence. Caroline M. Roberts, Gershon Spitz, Matthew Mundy and Jennie L. Ponsford. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. Volume 24, Issue 10 November 2018, pp. 1064-1072.

Objectives: Anecdotal reports suggest that following traumatic brain injury (TBI) retrograde memories are initially impaired and recover in order of remoteness. However, there has been limited empirical research investigating whether a negative gradient in retrograde amnesia—relative preservation of remote over recent memory—exists during post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) compared with the acute phase post-emergence. This study used a repeated-measures design to examine the pattern of personal semantic (PS) memory performance during PTA and within two weeks of emergence to improve understanding of the nature of the memory deficit during PTA and its relationship with recovery.

Methods: Twenty patients with moderate-severe TBI and 20 healthy controls (HCs) were administered the Personal Semantic Schedule of the Autobiographical Memory Interview. The TBI group was assessed once during PTA and post-emergence. Analysis of variance was used to compare the gradient across lifetime periods during PTA relative to post-emergence, and between groups.

Results: PS memory was significantly lower during PTA than post-emergence from PTA, with no relative preservation of remote memories. The TBI group was still impaired relative to HCs following emergence from PTA. Lower overall PS memory scores during PTA were associated with increased days to emerge from PTA post-interview.

Conclusions: These results suggest a global impairment in PS memory across lifetime periods particularly during PTA, but still present within 2 weeks of emergence from PTA. PS memory performance may be sensitive to the diffuse nature of TBI and may, therefore, function as a clinically valuable indicator of the likely time to emerge from PTA. (JINS, 2018, 24, 1064–1072).