Declarative memory requires conscious recall , in that some conscious process must call back the information. It is sometimes called explicit memory , since it consists of information that is explicitly stored and retrieved. Declarative memory can be further sub-divided into semantic memory , concerning principles and facts taken independent of context; and episodic memory , concerning information specific to a particular context, such as a time and place.
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Semantic memory allows the encoding of abstract knowledge about the world, such as "Paris is the capital of France". Episodic memory, on the other hand, is used for more personal memories, such as the sensations, emotions, and personal associations of a particular place or time. Episodic memories often reflect the "firsts" in life such as a first kiss, first day of school or first time winning a championship.
These are key events in one's life that can be remembered clearly. Autobiographical memory — memory for particular events within one's own life — is generally viewed as either equivalent to, or a subset of, episodic memory. Visual memory is part of memory preserving some characteristics of our senses pertaining to visual experience. One is able to place in memory information that resembles objects, places, animals or people in sort of a mental image. Visual memory can result in priming and it is assumed some kind of perceptual representational system underlies this phenomenon.
In contrast, procedural memory or implicit memory is not based on the conscious recall of information, but on implicit learning. It can best be summarized as remembering how to do something.
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Procedural memory is primarily employed in learning motor skills and should be considered a subset of implicit memory. It is revealed when one does better in a given task due only to repetition — no new explicit memories have been formed, but one is unconsciously accessing aspects of those previous experiences. Procedural memory involved in motor learning depends on the cerebellum and basal ganglia.
A characteristic of procedural memory is that the things remembered are automatically translated into actions, and thus sometimes difficult to describe. Some examples of procedural memory include the ability to ride a bike or tie shoelaces. Another major way to distinguish different memory functions is whether the content to be remembered is in the past, retrospective memory , or in the future, prospective memory.
Thus, retrospective memory as a category includes semantic, episodic and autobiographical memory. In contrast, prospective memory is memory for future intentions, or remembering to remember Winograd, Prospective memory can be further broken down into event- and time-based prospective remembering. Time-based prospective memories are triggered by a time-cue, such as going to the doctor action at 4pm cue. Event-based prospective memories are intentions triggered by cues, such as remembering to post a letter action after seeing a mailbox cue.
Infants do not have the language ability to report on their memories and so verbal reports cannot be used to assess very young children's memory. Throughout the years, however, researchers have adapted and developed a number of measures for assessing both infants' recognition memory and their recall memory.
Habituation and operant conditioning techniques have been used to assess infants' recognition memory and the deferred and elicited imitation techniques have been used to assess infants' recall memory. Researchers use a variety of tasks to assess older children and adults' memory. Some examples are:. Brain areas involved in the neuroanatomy of memory such as the hippocampus , the amygdala , the striatum , or the mammillary bodies are thought to be involved in specific types of memory.
For example, the hippocampus is believed to be involved in spatial learning and declarative learning , while the amygdala is thought to be involved in emotional memory.
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Damage to certain areas in patients and animal models and subsequent memory deficits is a primary source of information. However, rather than implicating a specific area, it could be that damage to adjacent areas, or to a pathway traveling through the area is actually responsible for the observed deficit.
Further, it is not sufficient to describe memory, and its counterpart, learning , as solely dependent on specific brain regions. Learning and memory are usually attributed to changes in neuronal synapses , thought to be mediated by long-term potentiation and long-term depression. However, this has been questioned on computational as well as neurophysiological grounds by the cognitive scientist Charles R. Gallistel and others. In general, the more emotionally charged an event or experience is, the better it is remembered; this phenomenon is known as the memory enhancement effect.
Patients with amygdala damage, however, do not show a memory enhancement effect. Hebb distinguished between short-term and long-term memory. He postulated that any memory that stayed in short-term storage for a long enough time would be consolidated into a long-term memory.
Later research showed this to be false. Research has shown that direct injections of cortisol or epinephrine help the storage of recent experiences. This is also true for stimulation of the amygdala. This proves that excitement enhances memory by the stimulation of hormones that affect the amygdala. Excessive or prolonged stress with prolonged cortisol may hurt memory storage.
Patients with amygdalar damage are no more likely to remember emotionally charged words than nonemotionally charged ones. The hippocampus is important for explicit memory. The hippocampus is also important for memory consolidation. The hippocampus receives input from different parts of the cortex and sends its output out to different parts of the brain also.
The input comes from secondary and tertiary sensory areas that have processed the information a lot already.
Hippocampal damage may also cause memory loss and problems with memory storage. Cognitive neuroscientists consider memory as the retention, reactivation, and reconstruction of the experience-independent internal representation. The term of internal representation implies that such definition of memory contains two components: the expression of memory at the behavioral or conscious level, and the underpinning physical neural changes Dudai The latter component is also called engram or memory traces Semon Some neuroscientists and psychologists mistakenly equate the concept of engram and memory, broadly conceiving all persisting after-effects of experiences as memory; others argue against this notion that memory does not exist until it is revealed in behavior or thought Moscovitch One question that is crucial in cognitive neuroscience is how information and mental experiences are coded and represented in the brain.
Scientists have gained much knowledge about the neuronal codes from the studies of plasticity, but most of such research has been focused on simple learning in simple neuronal circuits; it is considerably less clear about the neuronal changes involved in more complex examples of memory, particularly declarative memory that requires the storage of facts and events Byrne Convergence-divergence zones might be the neural networks where memories are stored and retrieved. Considering that there are several kinds of memory, depending on types of represented knowledge, underlying mechanisms, processes functions and modes of acquisition, it is likely that different brain areas support different memory systems and that they are in mutual relationships in neuronal networks: "components of memory representation are distributed widely across different parts of the brain as mediated by multiple neocortical circuits".
Study of the genetics of human memory is in its infancy. A notable initial success was the association of APOE with memory dysfunction in Alzheimer's disease. The search for genes associated with normally varying memory continues. One of the first candidates for normal variation in memory is the protein KIBRA ,  which appears to be associated with the rate at which material is forgotten over a delay period. There has been some evidence that memories are stored in the nucleus of neurons. Studies of the molecular basis for memory formation indicate that epigenetic mechanisms operating in brain neurons play a central role in determining this capability.
Key epigenetic mechanisms involved in memory include the methylation and demethylation of neuronal DNA, as well as modifications of histone proteins including methylations , acetylations and deacetylations see Epigenetics in learning and memory ; also . Stimulation of brain activity in memory formation is often accompanied by the generation of damage in neuronal DNA that is followed by repair associated with persistent epigenetic alterations.
In particular the DNA repair processes of non-homologous end joining and base excision repair are employed in memory formation . Up until the mids it was assumed that infants could not encode, retain, and retrieve information. Whereas month-olds can recall a three-step sequence after being exposed to it once, 6-month-olds need approximately six exposures in order to be able to remember it.
Although 6-month-olds can recall information over the short-term, they have difficulty recalling the temporal order of information. It is only by 9 months of age that infants can recall the actions of a two-step sequence in the correct temporal order — that is, recalling step 1 and then step 2. Younger infants 6-month-olds can only recall one step of a two-step sequence. In fact, the term 'infantile amnesia' refers to the phenomenon of accelerated forgetting during infancy. Importantly, infantile amnesia is not unique to humans, and preclinical research using rodent models provides insight into the precise neurobiology of this phenomenon.
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A review of the literature from behavioral neuroscientist Dr Jee Hyun Kim suggests that accelerated forgetting during early life is at least partly due to rapid growth of the brain during this period. One of the key concerns of older adults is the experience of memory loss , especially as it is one of the hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.
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Research has revealed that individuals' performance on memory tasks that rely on frontal regions declines with age. Older adults tend to exhibit deficits on tasks that involve knowing the temporal order in which they learned information;  source memory tasks that require them to remember the specific circumstances or context in which they learned information;  and prospective memory tasks that involve remembering to perform an act at a future time.
Older adults can manage their problems with prospective memory by using appointment books, for example.
Gene transcription profiles were determined for the human frontal cortex of individuals from age 26 to years. Numerous genes were identified with reduced expression after age 40, and especially after age There was also a marked increase in DNA damage , likely oxidative damage , in the promoters of those genes with reduced expression. It was suggested that DNA damage may reduce the expression of selectively vulnerable genes involved in memory and learning.
Much of the current knowledge of memory has come from studying memory disorders , particularly amnesia.