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Anterograde vs. Retrograde: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Anterograde refers to moving forward or occurring after, while Retrograde means moving backward or reverting to an earlier state.
Anterograde vs. Retrograde

Key Differences

Anterograde often relates to the progression of time or events from a past point forward. For example, anterograde memory refers to the ability to form new memories after a specific event. In contrast, Retrograde signifies a movement or action in the reverse direction. Retrograde motion in astronomy, for instance, describes a celestial body appearing to move backward in the sky.
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Nov 10, 2023
In medical terms, Anterograde is used to describe processes or conditions that develop forward or worsen over time. Anterograde amnesia, for example, prevents the formation of new memories following the onset of the condition. On the other hand, Retrograde in a medical context often refers to the return of a disease or symptoms to an earlier stage, or to conditions affecting memory of events before a certain point, like retrograde amnesia.
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Anterograde can also describe the transmission of signals or movement in a physiological context, such as anterograde transport in neurons, where materials are moved from the cell body towards the synapses. Retrograde in this context refers to the opposite direction, like retrograde transport in neurons, where materials move from the synapses back to the cell body.
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In the context of cultural or societal changes, Anterograde implies advancement or progress, like adopting new technologies or ideas. Retrograde in this sense often implies a return to older, perhaps outdated, ways of thinking or living, suggesting a reversal or decline in progress.
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In general, Anterograde is associated with forward movement, progression, or development, whether in time, space, or condition. Retrograde, conversely, is often associated with backward movement, regression, or reverting to a previous state in various contexts.
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Nov 10, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Direction

Forward or onward movement.
Backward or reverting movement.
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Memory (Medical)

Relating to forming new memories post-event.
Relating to loss of memories pre-event.
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Physiological Processes

Movement from the cell body towards synapses.
Movement from synapses back to the cell body.
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Cultural/Societal Changes

Progression or advancement.
Reverting to older methods or ideas.
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General Association

Development or progression.
Regression or reverting to a previous state.
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Anterograde and Retrograde Definitions

Anterograde

Moving or extending forward.
The anterograde flow of the river was rapid and unceasing.
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Retrograde

Moving backward or in a reverse direction.
The planet's retrograde motion was intriguing to astronomers.
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Anterograde

Pertaining to the transmission of impulses in a forward direction.
Anterograde transport in the neuron is essential for nerve function.
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Retrograde

Pertaining to the backward transmission of signals.
Retrograde transport in neurons plays a key role in cell signaling.
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Anterograde

Relating to the progression of a disease or condition.
The patient showed anterograde progression of symptoms.
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Retrograde

Signifying regression or decline.
Their retrograde decision undermined years of progress.
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Anterograde

Occurring or developing after an event.
His anterograde amnesia prevented him from forming new memories.
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Retrograde

Moving or tending backward
A retrograde flow.
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Oct 19, 2023

Anterograde

Signifying advancement or progress.
The society's anterograde policies fostered innovation.
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Retrograde

Opposite to the usual order; inverted or reversed
The retrograde form of the melody.
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Anterograde

(medicine) Effective immediately after a traumatic event such as an external shock.
Anterograde amnesia is a loss of the ability to create new memories after the event that caused the amnesia.
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Retrograde

Reverting to an earlier or inferior condition
A retrograde way of thinking.
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Anterograde

(medicine) Moving or occurring in the normal forward or downstream direction of.
Movement of mitochondria and other cell parts from a neuron's cell body toward the synapse is called anterograde transport.
Anterograde tracing is a research technique which is used to trace neural connections from their source to their point of termination. The opposite technique is retrograde tracing.
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Retrograde

Of or relating to the orbital revolution or axial rotation of a planetary or other celestial body that moves clockwise from east to west, in the direction opposite to most celestial bodies.
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Anterograde

Of amnesia; affecting time immediately following trauma
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Retrograde

Of or relating to the brief, regularly occurring, apparently backward movement of a planetary body in its orbit as viewed against the fixed stars, caused by the differing orbital velocities of Earth and the body observed.
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Retrograde

Of or relating to orbital motion in the direction opposite that of the predominant motion in an orbital system.
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Retrograde

(Astronomy) To have retrograde motion.
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Retrograde

To decline to an inferior state; degenerate.
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Retrograde

(Archaic) To move or seem to move backward.
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Retrograde

Directed or moving backwards in relation to the normal or previous direction of travel; retreating.
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Retrograde

Reverting to an inferior or less developed state; declining, regressing.
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Retrograde

(zoology) Of an animal: appearing to regress to a less developed form during its lifetime.
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Retrograde

Of the order of something: inverse, reverse.
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Retrograde

(music) Having a passage of music played backwards.
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Retrograde

Of ideas or a person: opposing social reform, favouring the maintenance of the status quo; conservative.
Retrograde ideas, morals, etc.
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Retrograde

(archaic)
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Retrograde

Involving a return to or a retracing of a previous course of travel.
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Retrograde

Counterproductive to a desired outcome; contradictory, contrary.
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Retrograde

(astronomy)
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Retrograde

Of a celestial body orbiting another: in the opposite direction to the orbited body's spin.
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Retrograde

Of a celestial body: seeming to move across the sky in the opposite direction from its ordinary movement.
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Oct 19, 2023

Retrograde

(geology) Of a metamorphic change: resulting from a decrease in pressure or temperature.
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Oct 19, 2023

Retrograde

(medicine) Of amnesia: relating to the period leading up to the episode which caused it.
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Retrograde

Of verse: reading the same forwards or backwards; palindromic.
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Retrograde

In a reverse direction; backwards.
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Retrograde

A movement backwards or opposite to the intended or normal motion.
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Retrograde

(astrology) The apparent movement of a planet across the sky in the opposite direction from its ordinary movement.
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Oct 19, 2023

Retrograde

One who opposes social reform, favouring the maintenance of the status quo; a conservative.
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Retrograde

(archaic) One who reneges on an agreement, or switches loyalties; a rebel, a renegade.
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Retrograde

(music) The reversal of a melody so that what is played first in the original melody is played last, and what is played last in the original melody is played first.
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Retrograde

(transitive)
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Retrograde

(geography) To cause (a land feature such as a coastline or waterfall) to undergo retrogradation, that is, to travel in the direction of the land or upstream due to erosion.
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Retrograde

(geology) To change (minerals, rocks, etc.) metamorphically through a decrease in pressure or temperature.
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Retrograde

(obsolete) To cause (someone or something) to revert to an inferior or less developed state.
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Retrograde

(intransitive)
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Retrograde

To revert to an inferior or less developed state; to decline, to regress.
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Retrograde

Of a celestial body, especially a planet: to show retrogradation; to seem to move across the sky in the opposite direction from its ordinary movement.
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Retrograde

(geography) Of a land feature: to travel in the direction of the land or upstream due to erosion.
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Retrograde

(military) To retreat or withdraw from a position.
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Retrograde

(obsolete)
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Retrograde

Apparently moving backward, and contrary to the succession of the signs, that is, from east to west, as a planet.
And if he be in the west side in that condition, then is he retrograde.
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Retrograde

Tending or moving backward; having a backward course; contrary; as, a retrograde motion; - opposed to progressive.
It is most retrograde to our desire.
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Retrograde

Declining from a better to a worse state; as, a retrograde people; retrograde ideas, morals, etc.
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Retrograde

To go in a retrograde direction; to move, or appear to move, backward, as a planet.
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Retrograde

Hence, to decline from a better to a worse condition, as in morals or intelligence.
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Retrograde

Move backward in an orbit, of celestial bodies
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Retrograde

Move in a direction contrary to the usual one;
Retrograding planets
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Retrograde

Move back;
The glacier retrogrades
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Retrograde

Go back over;
Retrograde arguments
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Retrograde

Get worse; fall back to a previous or worse condition
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Retrograde

Moving from east to west on the celestial sphere; or--for planets--around the sun in a direction opposite to that of the Earth
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Retrograde

Of amnesia; affecting time immediately preceding trauma
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Retrograde

Going from better to worse
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Retrograde

Moving or directed or tending in a backward direction or contrary to a previous direction
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Retrograde

Reverting to an earlier or less advanced state.
The company's retrograde step was criticized by tech experts.
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Retrograde

Relating to the recurrence of past conditions.
Retrograde symptoms indicated a relapse of the illness.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Is anterograde used in physiology?

Yes, it refers to the forward movement of substances within cells.
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Can retrograde be used in astronomy?

Yes, retrograde motion describes celestial bodies appearing to move backward.
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Nov 10, 2023

Does retrograde always mean going backward in time?

Not in time, but it refers to a backward movement or reversion in various contexts.
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What is anterograde amnesia?

Anterograde amnesia is the inability to form new memories after the onset of the amnesia.
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Is retrograde a negative term?

It can be, especially if it refers to regression or a return to less advanced states.
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Nov 10, 2023

Can anterograde apply to societal changes?

Yes, it can describe societal progress or forward movement.
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Does anterograde mean improvement?

Not always, but it often implies forward movement or development.
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Can retrograde refer to medical conditions?

Yes, like retrograde amnesia, where past memories are lost.
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Does retrograde apply to cultural aspects?

Yes, it can mean a return to older cultural norms or practices.
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Is anterograde used in technology?

It can be, to describe advancements or progress in technology.
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How does anterograde affect learning?

Anterograde amnesia can severely impede the ability to learn new information.
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Can anterograde be used in a positive context?

Yes, especially when referring to progress or advancement.
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Can retrograde actions be deliberate?

Yes, sometimes retrograde actions are taken intentionally.
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What causes anterograde amnesia?

It can be caused by brain injury, illness, or psychological trauma.
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Can retrograde be a strategic decision?

In some contexts, like business, a retrograde step might be strategic.
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Are there therapies for anterograde conditions?

Yes, depending on the cause, there are treatments for anterograde conditions like amnesia.
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Is retrograde movement common in space?

Yes, many celestial bodies exhibit retrograde motion.
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Do planets actually move backward in retrograde motion?

No, the retrograde motion of planets is an apparent, not actual, backward movement.
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Can anterograde apply to emotional development?

It's less common, but it can refer to forward emotional growth or change.
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Is retrograde always a physical movement?

No, it can also refer to metaphorical or symbolic backward movements.
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Nov 10, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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