Global amnesia after herpes simplex encephalitis has been typically associated with lesions of anterior and medial temporal lobe, inferior and medial frontal lobe, and insula. The neuropathologic correlates of this disease are usually considered to be bilateral and similar across cases. We describe a 27-year-old woman whose chronic amnesia and cerebral lesions after viral encephalitis indicate a different pattern. Two features distinguish her presentation: (1) markedly asymmetric lesions extensively involving the right temporal lobe but sparing almost all of the same structures on the left and (2) severe compromise of nonverbal learning and a nonverbal retrograde amnesia in contrast to disproportionately small impairments of verbal learning and retention. The findings suggest that encephalitis patients cannot be treated as a homogeneous group and that detailed analysis of variability in their anatomic lesions may be an important explanatory factor in neural accounts of these severe human amnesias.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Cognitive Neuroscience