This discussion explores components of the memory system. Components of the brain involved with memory include the cerebral cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, cerebellum, and basal ganglia. Types of memory are presented including short and long term, working, procedural, declarative, emotional, and motor memory abilities. This discussion explores not only the hippocampus and affects from damage to the hippocampus, but other brain components involved with memory as well.
Components of the memory system
Cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex responsible for thinking and language is where memories store long term. The prefrontal cortex of the cerebral cortex is associated with working memory affected by chemical secretions occurring through synapses by dopamine and glutamate. One with damage to the prefrontal cerebral cortex may not be able to respond immediately when asked a question or may not have the ability to recall what one is presenting; the chemicals dopamine and glutamate are associated in this area. (TSFN, 2002)
Amydala. TSFN (2002) present that the amygdala processes consequences, ones ability to act based on a value system, for example how one acts bases on rewards or consequences. Ones emotional memory occurs through the amygdala. Larner and Leach (2002) discuss Phineas Gage, a patient of Dr. John Martin Hollow, who suffered frontal lobe damage and lost his ability to experience emotions. Phineas Gage's inability to experience emotions may have been impacted from a damaged amygdala.
Hippocampus. The Society for Neuroscience (TSFN, 2002) present that memories begin to form in the medial temporal lobe. Brain components discovered in the memory system include the medial temporal lobe (hippocampus and surrounding brain areas); this converts memory from short to long term. Vast research has been committed to the role of the hippocampus (Spiers, Maguire, & Burgess, 2001) and its role on short term memory; research presents that the hippocampus is responsible for converting short term memory to long term memory. An example of a patient who has damage to the hippocampus may not have ability to recall past events or use short term knowledge to affectively plan for long term events.
Cerebellum. The cerebellum's role in memory is responsible for ones timing and motor learning abilities. Damage to this area could prevent one from having the ability complete complex motor tasks such as operation of large machinery or playing a musical instrument such as a guitar.
Basal ganglia. Carlson (2007) describes one with damage to this region of the brain having the inability to transform memory to the long term. One with damage to this area has the inability to recall conversations which may have recently occurred.
Types of memory
Carlson (2007) presents that one receives a stimulus from their senses, then that flows to short term memory, is rehearsed, consolidated, and then is converted to long term memory. The regions of the brain were discussed above. TSFN (2002) associates ones ability to process information and respond occurs through the prefrontal cortex in working memory. Observed in Phineas Gage (Larner & Leach, 2002) a steel rod damaged Phineas Gage's ability to process information, and his employees complained about this new personality and declined to work for Phineas Gage because of damage caused to his prefrontal cortex. Ones ability to recall skills or learned behavior occurs through procedural knowledge; such as ones ability to manage a project (The Society for Neuroscience (TSFN), 2002). One having the ability to recall past experiences and apply then to a current task occurs through ones declarative knowledge (Carlson, 2007). Brain regions involved with processing of declarative knowledge include the medial temporal region, thalamus, and role of the basal ganglia. Damage to any of these regions may impact ones ability to form associations with past events, and apply experiences which should have been learned to current tasks. The amygdala processes ones emotional memory in conjunction with the cerebellum (responsible for motor functioning). (Carlson, 2007; TSFN, 2002, pp. 18-19)
This discussion explored components of the memory system. Components of the brain involved with memory include the cerebral cortex, amygdala, hippocampus, cerebellum, and basal ganglia were discussed. Types of memory are presented including short and long term, working, procedural, declarative, emotional, and motor memory abilities. This discussion explores not only the hippocampus and affects from damage to the hippocampus, but other brain components involved with memory as well.
Carlson, N. R. (2007). Physiology of behavior (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson.
Larner, A., & Leach, J. P. (2002). History of neurology & neuroscience: Phineas Gage and the beginnings of neuropsychology [Electronic version]. ACNR, 2, 26).
Spiers, H. J., Maguire, E. A., & Burgess, N. (2001). Hippocampal amnesia [Electronic version]. Neurocase, 7, 357-382.
The Society for Neuroscience (2002). Brain facts: A primer on the brain and nervous system (4th eds.) [Electronic version] .Washington, DC: The Society for Neuroscience.