Content » Vol 36, Issue 3

"Functional motor amnesia" in stroke (1904) and "learned non-use phenomenon" (1966)

Jean-Marie André A1, A3, Jean-Pierre Didier A2, A3, Jean Paysant A1, A3
A1 Nancy Regional Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Nancy, Nancy, France
A2 Center of Rehabilitation and Convalescence, CHRU, Dijon, France
A3 Faculty of Medicine, University of Bourgogne, Federative Institute of Research on the Handicap (IFR 25- RFRH), France

DOI: 10.1080/16501970410026107


The "learned non-use phenomenon" described by Taub, one of the most original recent contributions to rehabilitation medicine probably corresponds to what Henry Meige (1866-1940), who studied under J.-M. Charcot, described in hemiplegics in 1904 using the expression "functional motor amnesia". He specified in 1914 at the time of the Babinski description of anosognosia, that: "Even with educated subjects who are still relatively young we are sometimes confronted with strange incapacities that are not due to impotence, negligence, or lack of confidence in the results. [...] With the transitory halting of the motility all memory of the function appears to have disappeared". Meige describes motor disorders that are: (i) distinct from lesional paralyses; (ii) secondary to the absence of activity; (iii) linked to a learning process; (iv) linked to a phenomenon of functional memory loss; (v) reversible; and (vi) motor re-education focusing on extended and repeated practice of the lost function: the same characteristics as the "phenomenon of learned non-use" described by Taub in monkeys then in man.

Lay Abstract


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