People with amnesia also find it hard to imagine the future, because our constructions of future scenarios are closely linked to our recollections of past experiences. Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis used advanced brain imaging techniques to show that remembering the past and envisioning the future may go hand-in-hand, with each process sparking strikingly similar patterns of activity within precisely the same broad network of brain regions.
Many people with amnesia find it helpful to use smart technology, such as a smartphone or a hand-held tablet device. With some training and practice, even people with severe amnesia can use these electronic organizers to help with day-to-day tasks. For example, smartphones can be programmed to remind them about important events or to take medications.
Low-tech memory aids include notebooks, wall calendars, pill minders, and photographs of people and places.
Transient global amnesia usually affects patients between the ages of 40 and 80. Patients with this condition are often described – wrongly – as being confused. It presents classically with an abrupt onset of severe anterograde amnesia. It is usually accompanied by repetitive questioning. The patient does not have any focal neurological symptoms. Patients remain alert, attentive, and cognition is not impaired. However, they are disoriented to time and place. Attacks usually last for 1–8 h but should be less than 24 h.