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Memory

Reference: chapter 57, 59.
Dr. Samina Malik

Definition of Memory:
• Ability to store experiences & recall these consciously or unconsciously.

Types of Memory:
• Immediate memory / short-term memory. • Intermediate memory. • Long term memory.

Immediate memory / short-term memory
• Memory of some words, numbers or information lasting for seconds to a few minutes. • It is forgotten unless it is converted into intermediate or long term memory.

Example of short term / immediate memory:
• A person consults a telephone directory for a telephone number & then dials that number & forgets the number. • By immediate memory, we can take into mind 7 or 10 digits of number. • It involves continuous neuronal activity. • Memory persists as long as impulses are conducted along nervous pathways.

Mechanisms of immediate memory:
• 1) impulses travel along nervous pathways having reverbrating circuits (impulses go on travelling along same pathway again & again). • 2) pre-synaptic inhibition or facilitation. • 3) post-tetanic facilitation.

pre-synaptic inhibition or facilitation
• At presynaptic terminal there are additional synapses, which may be inhibitory or facilitatory.

post-tetanic facilitation
• Through a synapse, impulses are rapidly conducted, then a short rest is given & then impulses are again conducted through same synapse. • Now response of post-synaptic neuron is greater, due to more availability of calcium ions in pre-synaptic terminal  release of neurotransmitter  EPSP  Response by postsynaptic neuron.

INTERMEDIATE MEMORY:
• Memory of some words or information lasting for hours, days or weeks. • It is difficult to be recalled & easy to be forgotten, unless converted into long-term memory.

Example of intermediate memory:
• We prepare for a test & keep it in mind for weeks (if prepared well) & then forget, unless we revise & convert it into longterm memory.

Mechanism of intermediate memory:
There are temporary physical & chemical changes at synapses & these include: • Increase in size & number of synaptic knobs.

• Increase in number of synaptic vesicles.

Long-term memory:
• Memory of words, numbers, information or facts which last for years or throughout life. • It is so consolidated that it can be recalled rapidly. Difficult to be forgotten.

Examples of long-term memory:
• Alphabets, • names of near relatives, • certain facts about universe / religion.

Mechanism of long-term memory:
• To convert immediate or intermediate memory into long-term memory, consolidation is required, which involves repetition or rehearsal. • Minimum consolidation may occur in 5-10 minutes & maximum occurs in 1 hr or more, e.g., in Hifz-a Quran, same verse of Quran is repeated.

Mechanism of long-term memory:
• It involves changes at synapses which are not temporary, but permanent. • There is increase in number & size of synaptic terminals.

• Increase in number of synaptic vesicles.

Mechanism of long-term memory:
• Increase in number of released sites on synaptic knobs. • There may be changes in post-synaptic neurons.

• It involves protein synthesis. Drugs which inhibit RNA synthesis inhibit memory.

Mechanism of long-term memory:
• During consolidation, synapses in thought circuits are permanently facilitated to form a memory trace, i-e., for certain facts in our memory, there is a memory trace.

Mechanism of long-term memory:
• In children, a number of extra-neuronal pathways having synapses are available. • If these nervous pathways having synapses are facilitated or used, these persist. If not used, they degenerate. (Use it or lose it!)

• That is why Hifz-a-Quran is more easy in childhood. (budhay totay nahin sekhtay!)

Parts of brain involved in memory process:
1) Temporal lobe: When different parts of temporal lobe are stimulated, past events are recalled. 2) Hippocampi are involved in memory.

3) Thalamic nuclei are also involved.

Loss of recent memory / anterograde amnesia:
Site of lesion: • • • • Hippocampi OR Anterior thalamic nuclei OR Mamillary bodies OR Dorsal medial nuclei of thalamus

Loss of recent memory / anterograde amnesia:
Clinical picture: • Past memory remains intact but recent memory is lost. • These patients are not able to learn new events. • Not able to remember names & faces of person they meet.

Loss of past memory / retrograde amnesia:
Lesion: • Lesion of certain thalamic nuclei.

Clinical picture: • Loss of past memory but able to store new events.

Drugs which stimulate memory:
• • • • • • Caffeine Nicotine Physostigmine Amohetamine Strichnine Metrazole

ALZEIMER’S DISEASE:
• Premature aging of brain. • Loss of mental powers. • Disease starts at mid-adult age.

• In severe cases, picture resembles mental power of a very old person.

Etiology & Mechanism of ALZEIMER’S DISEASE:
• Thought to be hereditary. • Gene which controls formation of Apolipoprotein E (a blood protein that transports cholesterol to the tissues) is defective. • This protein is concerned with transport of cholesterol in blood. • Deposition of amyloid material in brain (cerebral cortex, basal ganglia, hippocampus, thalamus, cerebellum). A metabolic degenerative disease.

Etiology & Mechanism of ALZEIMER’S DISEASE:
• Patients with Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) have 3 copies of the gene for amyloid precursor protein & develop neurological characteristics of Alzeimer’s disease by midlife. • Cerebrovascular disease caused by hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes, hyperlipidemia may play a role. • Main clinical feature is loss of memory.

Working memory:
• Includes mainly short-term memory. • Is used during the period of intellectual reasoning. • Terminated as each stage of problem is resolved.

Classification of memories on the basis of the type of information stored:
Declarative memory: Memory of various details of an integrated thought, like memory of an important experience including: • • • • Memory of surroundings, time relationships, causes of the experience & one’s deductions / conclusions that were left in the person’s mind. Skill memory: • Associate with motor activity like skills developed for hitting a tennis ball, including automatic memories to: Sight the ball Calculate the relationship & speed of the ball to racquet Deduce rapidly the motion of the body, arms & racquet to hit the ball as desired.

1) 2) 3)

This skill memory is based on previous learning of the gamethen moving on the next stroke of the game while forgetting the details of the previous stroke.

Habituation:
• A type of negative memory. • Brain can ignore the information with no consequence. • Mechanism involved is inhibition of synaptic pathways for this type of information. • Resulting effect is called habituation.

Memory sensitization:
• A type of positive memory. • Brain enhances & stores the memory traces that have important consequences like pain or pleasure.

• Mechanism is facilitation of synaptic pathways.
• Special areas in basal limbic region of brain determine whether the information is important or not & make the subconscious decision whether to store the thought as a sensitized memory trace or to suppress it.