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Korsakoff's syndrome (Korsakoff's psychosis, amnesic-confabulatory syndrome), is a degenerative brain disorder caused by the lack of thiamine (vitamin B1) in the brain. The syndrome is named after Sergei Korsakoff, the neuropsychiatrist who popularized the theory.
These symptoms are caused by a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1), which is thought to cause damage to the medial thalamus and possibly to the mammillary bodies of the hypothalamus as well as generalized cerebral atrophy.
When Wernicke's encephalopathy accompanies Korsakoff's syndrome, the combination is called the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Korsakoff's is a continuum of Wernicke's encephalopathy, though a recognised episode of Wernicke's is not always obvious.
Korsakoff's involves neuronal loss, that is, damage to neurons; gliosis which is a result of damage to supporting cells of the central nervous system; and hemorrhage or bleeding in mammillary bodies. Damage to the dorsomedial nucleus of the thalamus is also associated with this disorder.
Due to malnutrition and a lack of Thiamine, the hippocampus begins to decay, leaving holes that disallows one's rehearsed information within short term memory to transfer to long term memory (anterograde amnesia)
A famous case study is recounted by Oliver Sacks in "The Lost Mariner", which can be found in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.
Another case is that of the Australian artist Charles Blackman.
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