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Memory loss in opioid abuse

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2019 - Summer


Clusters of people with a history of opioid abuse who present without the ability to form new memories—a kind of brain damage—may offer a clue to amnesia, inflammation, and the process of memory loss. Adam Jasne, MD, assistant professor of neurology, observed swelling in the cerebellum and hippocampus (a part of the brain involved in memory formation) in six drug-overdose patients suffering from amnesia. Sometimes the brain swelling is fatal, and even when it isn’t, the patient can have permanent memory impairment along with such physical problems as movement abnormalities and seizures.

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