Deficits in Memory of Those with Korsakoff”s Syndrome


Korsakoff’s syndrome develops in individuals that consume high levels of alcohol over an extended period of time. This brain disorder is different from dementia even though they seem to share similar characteristics. Some may refer to this as an alcoholic form of dementia. More awareness is being raised in relation to this disorder since more people are consuming alcohol beverages for lengthy time periods. One aspect that contributes to memory loss is due to lack of vitamin B1. Such drinkers are known to have poor eating habits leaving their diets to be absent of essential nutrients and vitamins.

Research has shown that alcohol has a significant effect on the brain when consumed in heavy amounts overtime. Alcohol may slow down the body’s ability to convert vitamins into active elements essential to memory. The lining of the stomach is also affected from acidic qualities of the alcohol. The liver stores vitamins in the body, but when high amounts of alcohol is consumed this prevents the liver from absorbing vitamins. Onset of symptoms can arise from other factors including low blood sugar production and when body cells are not able to reproduce quickly due to lack of natural energy.

Alcohol assumption is a common culprit but other health conditions such as chronic health issues and AIDS may lead to this result. Sometimes it develops when the brain reacts to low levels of thiamine. In some patients this syndrome leads to other medical conditions that affect brain activity. Such symptoms may be more life-threatening with problems walking, confusion and involuntary eye movement considered abnormal.

Symptoms of Korsakoff include difficulty learning new information and lack of memory of recent events. Some experience long-term episodes of memory loss. Some may have the ability to carry on a conversation but minutes later forget what it was about or who they were talking to.

People with Korsakoff may make up information that was never spoken or part of their memory originally. This may come off as lying but they feel it is true or relevant to the subject of the conversation. This is a result of confabulation and researchers are still trying to understand why this occurs. Treatment options vary depending on level of diagnosis. Memory may be evaluated and oral supplements may be prescribed. There are people that recover from the syndrome but not everyone. In some cases patients may be instructed to avoid alcohol consumption.

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