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Top 10 Neurological Conditions That Affect Memory

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Many people worry about their memory.

While aging does attribute to memory loss, certain neurological conditions can result in more severe memory problems:

1. Alzheimer’s Disease/Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia: a neurological condition where patients have a faster rate of brain cell loss. Memory loss grows increasingly worse with Alzheimer’s disease, resulting in patients being unable to recognize family members in the later stages.

2. Head Injury
Damage can occur to the brain during a head injury, even if the skull was not fractured. Depending where the injury occurs, memory problems are possible.

3. Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
Transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a condition where the patient has stroke-like symptoms, though it is not the same as a stroke. During an episode, the patient can have a temporary loss of memory or confusion.

4. Korsakoff Syndrome
Korsakoff syndrome is the later stage of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, where the patient has a severe loss of memory, confabulates (creates false stories), and cannot form new memories. Korsakoff syndrome is caused by alcoholism, which results in a deficit in thiamine.

5. Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition caused by a deficit of the neurotransmitter dopamine from abnormal cell death. Memory loss is one of the possible symptoms.

6. Brain Infections
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that brain infections, like syphilis and Lyme disease, can also cause memory loss. The memory loss from syphilis does not occur until it reaches its last stage (tertiary stage); the memory loss from Lyme disease occurs in chronic or Stage 3.

7. Partial Seizures
In a partial seizure, or focal seizure, the abnormal electrical activity is localized in one area of the brain. The NIH states that a complex partial seizure affects “awareness or memory of events before, during, and immediately after the seizure.”

8. Emotional Trauma/PTSD
Patients who experience emotional trauma and develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have emotional amnesia, where they are unable to remember details about the traumatic event.

9. Brain Tumors
Brain tumors, both benign (noncancerous) and malignant (cancerous), can result memory loss or impaired judgment if located in specific areas of the brain, like the frontal lobe or temporal lobe.

10. Temporal Lobe Brain Surgery
While not a neurological condition in particular, surgery in the temporal lobe can result in memory deficits. Within the temporal lobe is the hippocampus, a brain structure that plays a crucial role in converting short-term memories into long-term memories.
Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch received her bachelor’s of science degree in neuroscience from Trinity College in Hartford, CT in May 2009. She is the Hartford Women's Health Examiner and she writes about abuse on Suite 101.

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EmpowHER Guest

Epilepsy seizures generally cause a temporary loss of memory, while the extent of damage caused by stokes depends on its severity.
Causes of memory loss

March 21, 2011 - 2:28am
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