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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 25 (1983) 5, 333 - 342

Short report

Forgetting in the aged --- differential diagnostic considerations

J.Ph. Hes

Does forgetting in aged persons herald the coming of senile dementia or is it a phenomenon essentially different from the process of senile dementia? After a discussion of the contributions of psychoanalysis, neuropharmacology and neuropsychology, the author focuses the attention on the communication aspects of memory function, the influence of REM sleep on the consolidation of memory and the role of chemical substances such as the neurohormonen vasopressin and oxytocin. In the differential diagnosis it should be taken into account that there is a possibility of psychogenic forgetting as well as a pseudo-dementia simulated by intercurrent diseases and/or administration of certain common drugs. After ruling out these conditions a differentiation can be made between benign and malignant senescent forgetfulness (Kral). Benign senescent forgetfulness is characterized by forgetting the attributen of time and place whereas the memory of the event itself is preserved. The malignant form includes experience as well as the attributen of time and place. In the hope that a neurohormone or neuropeptide will assist us in the future to prevent deterioration of our memory we should go on exercising this important function te prevent atrophy as a result of disuse.