Intermittant Short Term Memory Loss
sbmeade at umslvma.umsl.edu
Wed Apr 26 13:58:15 EST 1995
Here is the current mailbox of responses to the message I put on
bionet.neuroscience (this is a net news group you might be interested in
subscribing to). I've arranged them chronologically and omitted some of
my own responses. Note, one additional fact that has come up in the
course of reviewing these with Beth is that when she is awake and has a
mild attack she becomes nauseus so there are symptoms besides the memory
loss itself. Beth is working on a timeline of these events that I will
post later. Thanks for your time!
In article <3n4lqg$9vi at kasey.umkc.edu> you wrote:
:My wife (age 34) has had intermittant loss of short term (i.e., the last
:two weeks of events when it happens) memory for the past 12 years.
:Frequency is about once every 8 months (sometimes once a year others
:once a month). In the past 5 years she's had a CatScan, EEG (had the
:memory loss while on the EEG machine the first time but no symptoms were
:picked up) twice, and one year ago she had an MRI. MRI showed some
:shrinkage around the brain stem (in the neurologist's words) but
:She had another episode 3 weekends ago. It happend (as is often the
:case) while she was taking a short nap. She wakes up not knowing what
:is going on (not disoriented just no memeories). It looks for all the
:world like a hard disk is being decheckerboarded and is interrupted in
:the middle. All the pointers are gone and have to be rebuilt. In
:about 24 hours she is back to normal and the memories are back except
:for a few fuzzy facts (she reviews shopping lists etc. to nail down as
:many details as possible). Only drug she is on is birth control
:pills. We have 3 kids under 10 and are under no huge stresses.
:Yes, we called the neurologist about this but he had no new ideas.
:If anyone has any ideas I would appreciate it if you would contact me
:and let me know. We're at a loss about where to go next and have
:gone into "broacast mode" to avoid overlooking any simple cures that
: Bill Meade sbmeade at umslvma.umsl.edu
Before a simple cure is found, the diagnosis must be demonstrated. And,
I find myself somewhat stumped about this. I am assuming her neurological
exam is normal and additional blood studies and past medical history are
likewise normal. I am also assuming that these episodes do not always
follow waking up from sleep. You do not mention any features of her
memory loss; however, I am wondering if it clinically fits transient
global amnesia [TGA], a condition that usually results in the person
having memory problems and being somwhat bewildered for several hrs, but
always reversible within 24 hours [see Fischer C, Adams R. Acta Neurol
Scand 40, suppl 9, 1: 1964; Hinge H-H et al, Arch Neurol, 43, 673, 1986;
Hodges J, Ward C. Brain, 112, 595, 1989; Hodges J, Warlow C. Brain, 113,
The cause of TGA is unknown but presumed to be transient decreased blood
flow to the hippocampal region of the brain, involved in memory. These
articles can be looked up in your nearest medical library. TGA typically
occurs in older persons and is only rarely recurrent, but we are dealing
with something atypical in your wife's situation. Unless she has seen
countless specialists, it is also a good idea to get another opinion from
a neurologist who specializes in neurobehavioral disoders [e.g. cognitive
impairment]. The temporal relationship to sleep also makes one wonder
whether this is a peculiar sleep-related problem [out of my area], and
this should be evaluated as well by a sleep disorders specialist if the
consulting neurologist is not able to come up with a diagnosis.
Please recognize that I do not have all the clinical and lab info, and my
thoughts about this are speculative......
Regards, Lyn Frumkin, MD [neurology]
---- Next Post
This sounds a little like the woman who had a stroke at 16 and recovered,
got married, had three children, and then had her next stroke at 34.
Surgery was used to repair the last broken blood vessel. While doing his
they noticed the first stoke damage sight and fixed it also. When she
woke up she thought she was 16 and had lost her memory from 16 to 34.
Your hard drive model and pointer theory sounds interesting. The
brain may use time cycles and time dates for information storage.
Problems with a "clock" system may cause the observation. Notice in the
first example that blood flow was reestablished to an old stroke sight,
the birth control pills may be changing the blood flow patterns and
result in unusual brain oscillation pattern with no appropriate time
pointers. This is speculation at best and all usual disclaimers apply.
Ron Blue x011 at lehigh.edu
--- Which Ron follwed with
If you are interested in theoretical justification of my reply I can
send you a 78k file by email. Enclosed is an abstract. Ron Blue
x011 at lehigh.edu
The correlational opponent-processing theory is a homeostasis
integration psychological immune theory that would connect phenomena
such as sensation, perception, habituation, memory, representations,
learning, cognition, personality, psychopathology, paradoxical
integration, emotion, and evolution of the mind under a unified theory.
Perception/learning/cognition may be viewed as an effort to assimilate
and accommodate all experience into neuro-energy-efficient quasi-
holographic correlational opponent-processing recordings.
Stimuli causes brain wave modulations which interact with carrier or
reference wavelets. This interaction creates a quasi-holographic
stimulus wavelet. The opponent-process creates an opposing quasi-
holographic memory wavelet. Through this process the correlations or
associations of experience are encoded to memory. Every wavelet,
regardless of source or type, triggers an opposing wavelet. The
function of the opposing wavelet or feedback is to diminish the
intensity of neural processing. A wavelet potential is stored or hard
wired as long-term potentiation opponent-processes in nerve cells and
the interconnections between nerve cells. The wavelets are quasi-
holographic and allow recovery of information due to the interaction of
reference carrier wavelets and stimuli, thought, motor movement, and
Representations, copies or models
Sensations and Perceptions
Conclusion and applications from COP theory
--- Next response that came in ...
Subject: Re: Fwd: A shot in the dark ...
Received: 4/13/95 9:50 PM
From: Kathryn Henkens, 70731.2150 at compuserve.com
To: Guy Kawasaki, kawasaki at radiomail.net
This is a message I'm "narrowcasting" (like to the bio.neuroscience
group) about a problem my Beth is having. Let me know if it sparks any
Guy, all I can add to any comments you send this guy is that I had an
aunt who died of brain cancer. She had some seizures and was negative on
all her scans. They told her it was epilepsy and stopped scanning her. By
the time they found the tumor it was way too late. Tell him to be
agressive in how he consumes health care.
---- The next post was a bunch of questions from Neal Prakash
<nprakash at meded.com.uci.edu> his questions have the > in front and our
responses don't. (Duh).
>i have a couple more questions...
>1) is there anything that happened to her 12-13 years ago, ie trauma,
>concussion, travel to a foreign country, etc.?
Not off the top of my head but I'll ask Beth and see what she can come up
>2) what is her average alcohol consumption?
Zero. Her dad is one of the "yellow ribbon babies" whose parents vowed
that would never consume alcohol and she seems to have inherited an
inability to drink the stuff.
>3) are there any other sensations associated with the amnesia?--you said
>it often occurs when she takes naps, any other particular times?
>4) any family history of similar problems?
None that we know of. Beth's grandfather was quite senile (age 90+) for
several years before he died.
>it sounds like some kind of seizure, but the fact that the EEG was
>negative during one of these episodes tends to rule that out.
Precisely what I was thinking. This last time she came down into my
office and sat down and said, "It's happening again." and was very
cogent during the event which seems "unseizurelike" to me. The first eeg
she had she had the memory loss while she was on the machine. When the
test was over she was in a state of confusion about why all the wires
were attached to her.
---- The next post was another generous response from Lyn Frumkin
First, let me comment on the other opinions of the replier above. I
assume that obvious things such as CNS infection from travel to a foreign
country, amnesia secondary to head trauma, etc have been assessed, as has
simple partial or partial complex seizures. Has she had a lumbar puncture
> How many opinions is reasonable in your opinion? At what point is it
> reasonable to just live with the problem (if at all)?
This totally depends on who has evaluated her and what their subspecialty
is. I do not know how she has seen. My impression is that it is never
adequate to just "live with this" in the absence of a diagnosis. Someone
will be able to define the problem -you just need to find that person.
> >from a neurologist who specializes in neurobehavioral disoders
> >[e.g. cognitive impairment].
> Is there an association/listserv/WWWpage where I can look this up?
No. You need tyo tell me where she has been and who she has seen, whether
you want to see someone locally, or obtain a second opinion from one
outside the area. Top people in this field [behavoioral neurology] are
Frank Benson at UCLA 310-8259873, Kim Meador in Atlanta, 706-7212797;
they can also perhaps refer you to top behavioral neurologists in your
---- The next post from sdickins at cris.com (Stokes Dickins)
This may be a case of transient global amnesia, which can last up to 24
hours or so. The person experiencing this cannot form new memories
during the time it occurs. Cause is unknown, but it may be related to
migraine. Other possibility might be what is called a psychogenic fugue
state, less likely, but can be seen in individuals with a history of
prior abuse. I'd suggest you see a Dr. Dewey Zeigler, a neurologist at
University of Kansas in Kansas City. I don't know him personally, but he
has a good reputation as a clinical neurologist. Hope this helps, Stokes
---- The next post from bill at nsma.arizona.edu (Bill Skaggs)
> The sort of symptoms you describe could come about in a number of
>ways: you have given a pretty good description of what happens to a
>boxer who gets knocked out. Anything that seriously disrupts the
>metabolism of a part of the brain called the medial temporal lobe will
>have similar consequences. The most obvious possibility, given that
>the EEG is normal, is an intermittent reduction in blood supply to the
>medial temporal region of the brain, but generally anything that
>reduces the oxygen supply to the brain could be responsible, for
>example hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If your wife has not had a
>really thorough physical examination done, that should be the first
>thing. Assuming nothing turns up, you might inquire into the
>possibility of having a PET scan done the next time the memory loss
>happens -- I think this would be better than the tests you mentioned
>for detecting such a problem. If I were you, I would make some phone
>calls to Washington University in St. Louis (which has one of the top
>neuroscience programs in the country) and see if I could find a
>specialist in memory disorders who would be willing to take a look at
> -- Bill
>(Please note: I do research on memory, but I am not a neurologist and
>have not been to medical school; you should not assume that what I
>have said is necessarily true or complete.)
---- The next post
"Ian A. Paul, Ph.D." <iapaul at fiona.umsmed.edu> wrote:
>It sounds a lot like a series of transient (brief) ischemic attacks.
>That is, brief periods of diminished cerebral blood flow. From the
>description, this restriction may be highly localized to structures
>involved in short-term memory (e.g. hippocampus). You mention that
>the memory loss commonly follows naps. Although it seems unlikely, it
>may be possible that a problem similar to orthostatic hypotension is
>involved (i.e. a transient drop in blood pressure and flow in the brain
>upon rising from a prone position). If you neurologist hasn't
>run a cerebrovascular flow study, I would recommend it. I would also
>recommend that you get a second neurological opinion. If all else
>fails, you might want to contact either the National Institute of
>Neurological Diseases and Stroke in Bethesda or the Neurology
>Department at Washington University in St. Louis. Both have an
>excellent reputation in this area.
>Ian A. Paul, Ph.D.
Bill Meade, Ph.D. Voice=314.516.5623
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