Transient Global Amnesia

Transient global amnesia (TGA) is a neurological syndrome that results in a temporary, but total loss of short-term memory. There may also be some problems with long-term (older) memories.

Transient global amnesia usually lasts between 2 to 8 hours. The person with this form of amnesia can usually only remember the past few minutes or less, and cannot retain new information beyond that period of time.

If the memory loss lasts longer than 24 hours, the person does not, by definition, have transient global amnesia.

Someone suffering from transient global amnesia shows no other signs of impaired mental function or intelligence and does maintain a sense of self-identity, such as his/her name and birthday.

The cause of transient global amnesia remains unknown. It is thought to be the due to some form of epileptic or seizure-like event, related to changes in blood flow within the brain as might occur with a  migraine headache, or a problem related to blood circulation to the brain.

Some types of events may precede the onset of transient global amnesia, incuding:

  • Physical exertion
  • Emotional trauma
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Swimming in cold water, or other extreme temperature changes

The outcome for those experiencing transient global amnesia is very good. It is not a risk factor for stroke.

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Last updated: 5/13/2022