transient global amnesia

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pathologic impairment of memory. Amnesia is usually the result of physical damage to areas of the brain from injury, disease, or alcoholism. Psychologic factors may also cause amnesia; a shocking or unacceptable situation may be too painful to remember, and the situation is then retained only in the subconscious mind. The technical term for this is repression. (See also dissociative disorders.)

Rarely is the memory completely obliterated. When amnesia results from a single physical or psychologic incident, such as a concussion suffered in an accident or a severe emotional shock, the victim may forget only the incident itself; the victim may be unable to recall events occurring before or after the incident or the order of events may be confused, with recent events imputed to the past and past events to recent times. In another form, only certain isolated events are lost to memory.

Amnesia victims usually have a good chance of recovery if there is no irreparable brain damage. The recovery is often gradual, the memory slowly reclaiming isolated events while others are still missing. Psychotherapy may be necessary when the amnesia is due to a psychologic reaction.
anterograde amnesia impairment of memory for events occurring after the onset of amnesia. Unlike retrograde amnesia, it is the inability to form new memories.
circumscribed amnesia loss of memory for all events during a discrete, specific period of time. Called also localized amnesia.
continuous amnesia loss of memory for all events after a certain time, continuing up to and including the present.
dissociative amnesia the most common of the dissociative disorders; it is usually a response to some stress, such as a threat of injury, an unacceptable impulse, or an intolerable situation. The patient suddenly cannot recall important personal information and may wander about without purpose and in a confused state.

Persons with a dissociative disorder may at times forget what they are doing or where they are; when they regain self-awareness, they cannot recall what has taken place. A less severe form than amnesia is sleepwalking. Dissociative disorders are very likely an attempt by the mind to shield itself from the anxiety caused by an unresolved conflict. The patient, upon encountering a situation that may be symbolic of this inner conflict, goes into a form of trance to avoid experiencing the conflict.
generalized amnesia loss of memory encompassing the individual's entire life.
lacunar amnesia partial loss of memory; amnesia for certain isolated experiences.
post-traumatic amnesia amnesia resulting from concussion or other head trauma. Called also traumatic amnesia. See also amnestic syndrome.
psychogenic amnesia dissociative amnesia.
retrograde amnesia inability to recall events that occurred prior to the episode precipitating the disorder. Unlike anterograde amnesia, it is the loss of memories of past events.
selective amnesia loss of memory for a group of related events but not for other events occurring during the same period of time.
transient global amnesia a temporary episode of short-term memory loss without other neurological impairment.
traumatic amnesia post-traumatic amnesia.
Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved.

tran·sient glo·bal am·ne·si·a

a disorder that affects mainly old people who have not sustained a recent head injury and who do not have epilepsy; characterized by the abrupt onset of the inability to form memories (i.e., anterograde amnesia) and the resulting bewilderment; during the episode, which may last minutes to a few hours, the person is fully conscious, oriented, can perform complex activities, and has a normal result on neurologic examination; of uncertain etiology, but currently most often attributed to an ischemic episode affecting the mesial temporal lobe region.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

transient global amnesia

Neurology The loss of memory largely attributable to ischemia, possibly vasospasms. See Amnesia.
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

tran·si·ent glo·bal am·ne·si·a

(tran'sē-ĕnt glō'băl am-nē'zē-ă)
A memory disorder seen in middle-aged and old people characterized by an episode of amnesia and bewilderment that persists for several hours; during the episode the patient has a memory defect for present and recent past events, but is fully alert, oriented, capable of high-level intellectual activity, and has a normal result on neurologic examination.
Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing © Farlex 2012

transient global amnesia

A state, lasting for less than 24 hours, in which there is inability to form new memories and in which there is loss of memory for periods of up to years (retrograde amnesia) prior to the attack. After the attack there is permanent memory loss for the period of the attack. The condition may be brought on by emotional upset, physical exertion, sexual intercourse or the Valsalva manoeuvre.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005
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