Korsakoff's Sydrome


  • A chronic memory disorder caused by lack of thiamine, also called Vitamin B1
  • May occur after Wernicke’s encephalopathy – a severe lack of thiamine which generally requires hospitalization
  • Slow and usually incomplete improvement in memory function


  • Mental confusion, amnesia, confusion, and disorientation
  • Vision impairment
  • Difficulty learning new information, establishing new memories, and recalling previous memories
  • Confabulation – making up things that can’t be remembered
  • May have an entire coherent conversation then completely forget that it happened


  • Alcohol abuse
  • Deficiencies related to poor diet
  • Prolonged vomiting
  • Chronic infection
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Recent surgery for obesity
  • Widespread cancer in the body
  • AIDS


  • Assessment through review of medical history and medications, observations during the appointment, and interviews with family or close friends
  • Physical and neurological exam, including memory test and depression screen
  • Lab studies, including blood count and glucose, thyroid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and thiamine levels
  • A possible CT scan of the head or an MRI of the brain


  • Thiamine replacement
  • Adequate nutrition and hydration