Korsakoff's Syndrome
Korsakoff’s syndrome is a syndrome of impaired
memory and other symptoms caused by chronic
alcoholism. A syndrome is a group of signs and
symptoms that occur together and have a common
cause, representing a certain disease or abnormality.
Korsakoff's syndrome is characterized by confusion,
severely impaired memory of recent events (also known
as anterograde amnesia), and an inability to learn new
skills. It can also cause retrograde amnesia, which is a
loss of memory for information from the past.
Alcoholism can lead to Korsakoff's
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A person with Korsakoff's syndrome copes with gaps in memory by confabulating
(unintentionally making up incorrect information). Before someone develops Korsakoff's
syndrome, he/she may first experience delirium tremens, which is an acute (sudden)
confusional state, often caused by severe alcohol withdrawal. Korsakoff's syndrome is
more likely due to severe nutritional deficiencies (particularly in B complex vitamins such
as thiamine [B1] and B12) caused by excessive alcohol intake, than to the direct harmful
effects of alcohol consumption. The problem is that some people who consume excessive
amounts of alcohol replace important parts of their diets with the alcohol, preventing them
form getting the proper amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Korsakoff's syndrome often coexists with Wernicke's syndrome. In Wernicke's syndrome,
there is a deficiency in the vitamin, thiamine, due to poor nutrition. The thiamine
deficiency in Wernicke's syndrome leads to brain damage.
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Specifically, the brain becomes inflamed, bleeds, and deteriorates
over time. It is known that the nutritional deficiencies in
Korsakoff's syndrome cause degeneration of the thalamus, which
is an area of the brain that sends out messages regarding
sensation. Korsakoff's syndrome was named after Sergei S.
Korsakoff, a Russian psychiatrist born in 1854.

Korsakoff's syndrome is also known as Korsakoff's psychosis,
dysmnesic psychosis, dysmnesic syndrome, and polyneuritic