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Brain Memory Loss


While memory loss is a normal part of the aging process, brain memory loss can at times seriously impair a person’s ability to function on a daily basis. By memory, we refer to a person’s ability to store, retain and subsequently retrieve any information. Although traditionally almost all studies of the memory lie within the realms of philosophy, memory now falls within a branch of science known as cognitive neuroscience. Memory can be classified into different types and the most basic and widely accepted classification that is based on the duration of retention would include three memory types, which would be long term memory, short term memory and sensory memory.

Forgetting things occasionally is not uncommon and almost everyone at some point of time will have forgotten where they placed their wallet or phone or some clothing. Memory loss can however turn into something quite terrifying when a person finds memories of their lives slipping away, irrespective of whether the memory loss is caused by the natural aging process, as a consequence of the onset of a degenerative disease such as Alzheimer's, or due to brain injury.

There is a strong connection between brain injury and memory loss. Most types of memory are believed to be preserved in the cortex, with different areas of the cortex specializing in different types of information. For example visual information about an object may be stored in one location, while any other associations like an emotional one may be stored in another location. The link between the two areas implies that seeing the image will also restore the feelings of association. For this reason damage to a specific area of the cortex will result in specific memory deficits. For example, using the previous situation, if the area of the cortex that stores the feeling of association with an object is damaged, but the area in which knowledge of the object is stored is not damaged, then although a person may recognise that object it will not arouse any feelings or emotional association as it normally would. This would be just one type of brain injury related memory loss.

Formation and storage of new memories depends on the functioning of the hippocampus and connected structures in the temporal lobe. Damage to this region can cause anterograde amnesia, in which older memories remain, but very few or no new memories are acquired. The functioning of the brain with relation to memories is still not completely understood, but the role of the hippocampus in the creation of new memories is undeniable. Damage to any of these regions of the brain can result in brain injury and memory loss.

Submitted on January 16, 2014