To assess semantic memory and frontal executive function, two patients underwent neuropsychological testing during transient global amnesia (TGA) and after an interval of 6-8 weeks. In spite of a profound deficit in anterograde verbal and non-verbal memory, semantic memory was normal, as judged by category fluency measures, picture naming, and picture-word and picture-picture matching, and reading ability was normal. Similarly, there were no deficits on a number of tests known to be sensitive to frontal executive dysfunction. A hexamethylpropyleneamine-oxime (HMPAO) single photon emission CT (SPECT) scan, obtained on one patient 24 hours post-TGA, showed focal left temporal lobe hypoperfusion which had resolved three months later. The observed dissociation between episodic and semantic memory is discussed in the light of contemporary cognitive theories of memory organisation.
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