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Characterising memory loss in patients with autoimmune limbic encephalitis hippocampal lesions

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Meher LadORCiD, Dr Sinead MullallyORCiD, Alex Houston, Dr Thomas Kelly, Professor Tim GriffithsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Since the publication of Scoville and Milner’s (1957) seminal paper, the precise functional role played by the hippocampus in support of human memory has been fiercely debated. For instance, the single question of whether the hippocampus plays a time-limited or an indelible role in the recollection of personal memories led to a deep and tenacious schism within the field. Similar polarisations arose between those who debated the precise nature of the role played by the hippocampus in support of semantic relative to episodic memories and in recall/recollection relative to familiarity-based recognition. At the epicentre of these divisions lies conflicting neuropsychological findings. These differences likely arise due to the consistent use of heterogeneous patient populations to adjudicate between these positions. Here we utilised traditional neuropsychological measures in a homogenous patient population with a highly-discrete hippocampal lesion (i.e. VGKCC-Ab related autoimmune limbic encephalitis patients). We observed consistent impairment of recent episodic memories, a present but less striking impairment of remote episodic memories, preservation of personal semantic memory, and recall but not recognition memory deficits. We conclude that this increasingly well-characterised patient group may represent an important homogeneous population in which the functional role played by the hippocampus may be more precisely delineated.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lad M, Mullally SL, Houston AL, Kelly T, Griffiths TD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Hippocampus

Year: 2019

Volume: 29

Issue: 11

Pages: 1114-1120

Print publication date: 01/11/2019

Online publication date: 31/08/2019

Acceptance date: 09/08/2019

Date deposited: 27/08/2019

ISSN (print): 1050-9631

ISSN (electronic): 1098-1063

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1002/hipo.23150


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Funder referenceFunder name
Wellcome Trust