Korsakoff’s Syndrome

Korsakoff’s syndrome is a disorder that primarily affects the memory system in the brain. It usually results from a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1), which may be caused by alcohol abuse, dietary deficiencies, prolonged vomiting, eating disorders, or the effects of chemotherapy.


Cluster Number:
Wiki Number: PW111
Diagnosis: Korsakoff’s Syndrome
US Patients: 12.5% of heavy drinkers
World Patients :
Sex Ratio:
Age Onset:
Brain Area: lack of thiamine in the brain along with prolonged use of alcohol; Wernicke encaplophathy may accompany it ; thalamus damage
Symptoms: amnesia, inventing memories, apathy, licak of insight, minimal conversation
Progression: specific “declarative” memories (events), but not procedural memories (bike-riding) can be lost
Causes: malnutrition and heavy drinking over time
Medications: adding dietary thiamine and/or Vitamin B,


The world-wide medical research
reports chosen for each diagnosis 

Clicking each title opens the
PubMed article’s summary-abstract.

  • Gayet-Wernicke Encephalopathy: An Unusual Complication of Vomiting
    by Hanane Delsa on October 14, 2021

    Gayet-Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) is a serious and acute disease of the central nervous system caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. Multiple etiologies are indicated, although alcohol abuse is the most reported cause. If not treated promptly, WE can lead to serious complications such as Korsakoff's syndrome, coma, or death. This diagnosis should be considered even without a history of alcohol dependence. We describe two cases of non-alcohol related WE complicating vomiting caused by...

  • Genetic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease shows fatal family insomnia phenotype
    by Bin Chen on September 6, 2021

    We report a case of genetic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (gCJD), which has a clinical phenotype that is highly similar to Fatal Family Insomnia (FFI) and has a triad of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKs) at the developmental stage of the disease. The 51-year-old male complained of sleep disorder and imbalance who had visited five different hospitals before diagnosed. A neurological examination revealed a triad of symptoms characteristic for WKs such as gaze paresis, ataxia of limbs and trunk, and...

  • Korsakoff syndrome: An overlook (Review)
    by IonuŇ£ Popa on September 1, 2021

    This review aimed to analyze the latest neurobiological findings regarding Korsakoff syndrome, since alcoholism is the most prevalent addiction worldwide. In addition, we analyzed the optimal treatment that can be administered in order to minimize the symptoms and improve the outcome of these patients. The disruption of memory circuits within the brain of alcoholic patients results in the amnestic syndrome known as Korsakoff syndrome. It is generally characterized by a chronic neuropsychiatric...

  • The specificity of thalamic alterations in Korsakoff's syndrome: Implications for the study of amnesia
    by Shailendra Segobin on August 29, 2021

    The pathophysiological mechanisms behind amnesia are still unknown. Recent literature, through the study of patients with Alcohol Use Disorder with and without Korsakoff's syndrome, increasingly shows that physiological alterations to the thalamus have an important role in the development of amnesia. This review gives an overview of neuropsychological, neuropathological and neuroimaging contributions to the understanding of Korsakoff's syndrome, highlighting the central role of the thalamus in...