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Additional info for Amnesia. Clinical, Psychological and Medicolegal Aspects

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There is also a large measure of agreement that, irrespective of the method of training employed, learning by amnesics, if it occurs at all, is very much slower than the normal. An important question arises as to the fate of those items of information which enter into the long-term memory of amnesic patients insofar as this is suggested by the occurrence of cumulative learning or correct retrieval after a retention interval of several minutes or more. Is the rate of forgetting of such items following further lapse of time comparable with the normal or is the rate of forgetting accelerated?

5 This rather persuasive argument has recently been questioned on the basis of a study of normal memory using similar techniques. Woods and Piercy (1974) investigated the possibility of obtaining results similar to Warrington and Weiskrantz without using any amnesic subjects but substituting for them a group of normal subjects with a presumably weak memory trace. Subjects were tested on half the material after one minute and on the other half after one week with separate groups for each method of testing.

An errorless trial was a trial in which all words were correctly guessed on the basis of the first two letters. Following a retention interval of one hour, subjects were retrained to the same criterion and a savings score computed. This score was significantly higher in the controls than in the amnesics. Although these two studies show that, for certain retention intervals, amnesics forget more than controls, the findings of the first study which examined forgetting at three different retention intervals call for discussion.

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