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September 1984

Dissociations Between Skill Learning and Verbal Recognition in Amnesia and Dementia

Author Affiliations

From the Psychology Research Service, Boston Veterans Administration Medical Center (Drs Butters and Becker, and Mss Martone and Payne), the Neurology Services, VA Outpatient Clinic (Dr Sax), the Neurology Department (Drs Butters and Sax), Boston University School of Medicine, Boston. Dr Butters is now with the San Diego VA Medical Center.

Arch Neurol. 1984;41(9):965-970. doi:10.1001/archneur.1984.04050200071020

• Patients with Huntington's disease (HD), patients with alcoholic Korsakoff's syndrome, and normal control subjects were compared on tests of skill learning (mirror reading) and verbal recognition. Like previously reported results, the patients with Korsakoff's syndrome acquired the mirror-reading skill at a normal rate but were severely impaired in their recognition of the words used on the mirror-reading task. In contrast to the amnesic patients, the demented patients with HD were retarded in their ability to acquire this skill but showed normal verbal recognition. Besides emphasizing substantial differences in the anterograde memory disorders of these two patient populations, the results suggest that the memory disorder of patients with HD may appear much more severe when recall rather than recognition test paradigms are employed. This failure of recall by the patients with HD may be due to an inability to generate strategies necessary to search their short- and long-term memories.

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