Amnesia epidemiology and demographics

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Jesus Rosario Hernandez, M.D. [2]

Epidemiology and Demographics


The prevalence of dissociative amnesia is 1,000 to 2,600 per 100,000 (1.0% to 2.6%) of the overall population.[1]


Worldwide, the incidence of transient global amnesia is approximately 2.9– 10 per 100,000 cases per year. [2]


Research has found that in general the earliest recollections of females with childhood amnesia are earlier and more vivid than those of males (Gleitman, et al., 2004). One study found that when 8-year old subjects were asked to recall events they had been interviewed about between 40 and 70 months old, the females provided significantly more vivid memories than the males (Fivush, et al., 1999). A similar study with adults found that women generally can recall earlier and more vivid memories than men (MacDonald, et al., 2000). It has been suggested that this pattern is due to differences in how males and females interact as children, especially the types of conversations they have (Gleitman, et al., 2004).


Race has also been shown to play a role in the effect of childhood amnesia. One study found that Europeans had later first retrievable memories than New Zealand Maoris, and Asians had still later ones. This suggests that the importance of the past in Maori culture may have something to do with their particularly early first retrievable memory (MacDonald, et al., 2000). It is not known definitively, however, why the racial pattern of childhood amnesia is observed.


  1. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders : DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association. 2013. ISBN 0890425558.
  2. Quinette P, Guillery-Girard B , Dayan J , et al. What does transient global amnesia really mean? Review of the literature and thorough study of 142 cases. Brain 2006;129 (Part 7) :1640–58.