Book Definition: The inability to remember information previously stored in memory.

In Your Own Words

  • Things that can't be remembered from the past
  • Not being able to remember things from the past, but you can still make new memories.
  • Cannot remember things prior to the onset of the amnesia, but can remember events thereafter.
  • The inability to retrieve previously encoded and stored memories from LTM (Long-Term Memories).
  • The loss of the ability to retrieve memories from LTM, but still being able to encode and store.
  • The ability to create and store new memories but unable to retrieve them along with memories from the past.


  • If an accident causes retrograde amnesia, a person will not be able to remember things from their past. However, from that time on they will be able to form and recall new memories.
  • In the movie Anastasia, she hits her head on the train track and forgets who she is and everything in her life before she hit her head.
  • A motorcyclist unable to recall driving his motorbike after his head injury.
  • In the TV show Kyle XY, the main character cannot remember his past but forms new memories.
  • In the TV show Breaking Bad, Walter pretends to have retrograde amnesia, claiming to not remember what he did when he vanished for a weekend.
  • In the new eagerly awaited movie, "The Vow", Paige loses her past memory of her husband after her accident.
  • "retro-" means backward.So events that occurred back in time are not able to be recalled.


  • 20 rats were trained to solve a series of discriminations between two odors for 14 days. One was AP5 and the other was saline. the tested the rats with long intertrial intervals which means time. They had great difficulties remembering the odors with the longer period of time. After that they were tested with a shorter amount of time. They had not difficulty recognizing the odors. So this experiment shows retrograde amnesia because the rats couldn't remember the odors after a long period of time.
  • Staubli, U., Thibault, O., DiLorenzo, M., & Lynch, G. (1989). Antagonism of NMDA receptors impairs acquisition but not retention of olfactory memory. Behavioral Neuroscience, 103(1), 54

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