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Growing Up Without Episodic Memory

Speaker: Professor Faraneh Vargha-Khadem, UCL

15TH NOVEMBER 2012, 6-7.30PM 




We previously reported that hypoxia/ischaemia-induced bilateral hippocampal atrophy of 20-30% on each side results in the syndrome of developmental amnesia. We now report on dissociations between episodic vs semantic memory, and recall vs recognition in (i) a large group of patients with developmental amnesia associated with severe bilateral hippocampal atrophy, and (ii) an equally large group with moderate hippocampal atrophy and moderate memory impairment. We also report on the pattern of morphometric brain abnormalities beyond the hippocampus in the two patient groups, both exposed to global hypoxic-ischaemic episodes early in life.We conclude that: (i) episodic memory, and recall deficits after early exposure to hypoxia-ischaemia are due to bilateral hippocampal atrophy, and reduction of gray matter density in the hippocampo-thalamic memory circuit, with degree of memory impairment related to extent of hippocampal atrophy; and (ii) when the degree of hypoxia-ischaemia induces extensive hippocampal damage, it produces damage in addition to the neostriatum.




Professor Faraneh Vargha-Khadem was born in Tehran, Iran and completed her graduate studies in 1979 at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Montreal Children's Hospital in 1981, thereafter joining the Faculty of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University where she worked for two years before moving to London, England. In 1983, she accepted a faculty research position at the Institute of Child Health, London, where she has remained to the present time. Professor Vargha-Khadem's research and clinical work is directed toward understanding the cognitive and behavioral deficits of brain-injured children in terms of the underlying neuropathology, with the goal of developing new knowledge about the ontogeny of specific neural systems. Professor Vargha-Khadem is a member of the Baha'i Faith, a world religion dedicated to establishing peace and unity among mankind.

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