Korsakoff Syndrome

Other Known Aliases none

Definition – chronic, irreversible amnestic disorder caused by thiamine deficiency classically associated with longstanding alcohol use

Clinical Significance there are seven major symptoms of Korsakoff syndrome that can be seen clinically:

  1. Anterograde amnesia
  2. Retrograde amnesia
  3. Amnesia of fixation
  4. Confabulation
  5. Minimal content in conversation
  6. Lack of insight
  7. Apathy

This is classically taught as a continuation of Wernicke’s encephalopathy, though patients may not present in early stages.

HistoryNamed after Sergei Sergeievich Korsakoff (1854-1900), who was a Russian neuropsychiatrist and received his medical doctorate from Moscow State University in 1875. He would go on to gain fame in fields of neurology and psychiatry culminating in his appointment as professor extraordinarius at a dedicated psychiatric hospital in Moscow and helping to found the Moscow Society of Neuropathologists and Psychiatrists. His eponymous condition was first described in 1887 in his graduate thesis entitled “Alcoholic Paralysis”


  1. Firkin BG and Whitwirth JA.  Dictionary of Medical Eponyms. 2nd ed.  New York, NY; Parthenon Publishing Group. 1996.
  2. Bartolucci S, Forbis P.  Stedman’s Medical Eponyms.  2nd ed.  Baltimore, MD; LWW.  2005.
  3. Yee AJ, Pfiffner P. (2012).  Medical Eponyms (Version 1.4.2) [Mobile Application Software].  Retrieved http://itunes.apple.com.
  4. Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms. http://www.whonamedit.com
  5. Up To Date. www.uptodate.com
  6. Kessels RP – Korsakoff Syndrome. The Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. [link]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s