Informations and abstract
Memory for famous events that occurred in the past provides the basis for assessing the presence of retrograde amnesia in brain-damaged patients. The standardization of a questionnaire for famous events, specific for each country, represents, therefore, an important step for the evaluation of retrograde memory. We report the updating of the questionnaire for famous events, prepared by Costa, De Renzi and Faglioni (1989) for the Italian population. The new version presents 8 multiple choice questions for each four-year period from 1966 to 1997. It was given to 169 normal subjects, whose age ranged from 21 to 77 years. Males performed better than females and years of schooling were a significant factor, while the subjects' age did not affect the performance. Two statistical parameters were computed on the scores, corrected for sex and age, the external and the internal tolerance limit. The former defines with 95% of confidence the level at or below which falls the poorer 5% of the normal population, the latter the level above which performs the 95% of the normal population. We propose that brain-damaged patients with scores at or below the external limit are likely to be affected by retrograde amnesia, those who perform above the internal limit are normal and those scoring in between the two limits are of uncertain diagnosis and must be kept under observation. The tolerance limits were also computed for each of the eight four-year periods covered by the questionnaire with the aim to provide objective criteria to ascertain whether the amnesic profile presented by a patient was characterised by a temporal gradient.