Memory and Cognition

Introduction

Cognitive psychology covers mental functions related to knowledge and skills. It encompasses different functions associated with the mind such as memory, thinking and language abilities. Cognition refers to an individual's ability to recognize and comprehend concepts. The mind is a complex computing system and has a central role in cognition. Cognition, therefore, relies on the available information and the creation of new information depending on varying contexts. There are several areas of research that are linked to cognition; psychology, linguistics, anesthesia among others. A young field of study, cognitive science seeks to find more information and knowledge on perception.

Memory entails processes of information encoding, storage and retrieval. Encoding permits external information to access an individual's senses as physical and chemical stimuli. At this initial stage, information is altered to allow encoding. After the receiving, processing and combination of received data, the second step of the memory process is the storage. Development of permanent records of the encoded data happens. Information maintenance occurs over varied duration of time. The final step is the retrieval of the initially stored data for location and return to an individual's consciousness. The recollection of the stored information occurs when the need for its use in an activity arises. Sometimes the recalling efforts may be less based on the kind of data.

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Cognition is closely associated with the mind and intelligence in terms of information processing of an individual. The mental process of memory is categorized depending on the nature of conscious thought. Procedural memory required for carrying out specific activities that need the least amount of conscious effort. Procedural memory is crucial in the performance of a particular action due only to repetition. There are no new memories being formed, but individuals can access aspects pertaining their previous experiences. Individuals respond in specific ways to specific situations. This type of memory aid in motor learning and relies on the cerebellum and basal ganglia. Examples of procedural memory are cooking ability of given meals or drive a motorcycle.

Semantic memory has the total information available in one's mind. It is the sum of information available about almost everything in the world. Examples are people's names and information on world destination. Accessibility of this kind of memory can be slightly or extremely effortful depending on factors such as recent activities, frequency, number of connections and meaning level. Episodic memory has all the memories that are brief, but entails information that is specific to a given context. The data stored is considered more personal since it is about an individual's life- emotions and relations of a particular time and location. It is also referred to as autobiographical memory. Visual memory store features of senses in relation to visual experiences that are translated into mental images. Visual memory demands the highest level of thought since it encompasses semantic memory and temporary information. Visual memory is assumed to be a type of perception representation system.

There are two types of memory failure. Transience is the degradation with time progression. It takes place in the storage part of memory, after storage of material and prior to the retrieval of the stored information. This kind of memory failure can occur in short-term, sensory and long-term memory storage. It follows a general modality where material is quickly forgotten in the initial duration of days or years succeeded by fewer losses in later time. Another type of memory failure is absent-mindedness caused by absence of attention. Focus is important in the storage of information into long-term memory; lack of this distorts the storage of information, thereby hampering the later recovery.

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Fundamental Issues Associated with Amnesia

Cognitive psychology has provided extensive information on memory disorders. Amnesia is the loss of memory. There is a lot of information on amnesia. It occurs due to massive distortion of different parts of the brain. The brain parts affected are the medial temporal lobe regions and the midline diencephalic region. Different types of amnesia whose research has made it possible for the view of defects in particular areas of the memory system of the brain. The observation has enabled the discovery of the functions of these areas in a healthy brain. Other diseases can also affect memory, and cognition is Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Hyperthymesia disorder affects the episodic memory; therefore, the tiny details of experience are not discarded. Korsakoff's psychosis an organic brain illness adversely impacts memory. Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon that is a common temporary memory failure is characterized by inability to retrieve words from memory. People who suffer from Anomic aphasia experience this phenomenon regularly because of the distortion of frontal and parietal brain lobes.

A significant issue is that childhood amnesia is the loss of memory of incidents from an individuals childhood. This has been commonly associated it with sexual repression while other more recent scientific views associate it with brain development. Scientists have revealed that implicit memories are not recollected. Implicit memories such as laughing and running are not easily given attention. Explicit memories can be recollected and explained using words for example ones first day in school.

Genetics of infancy memory has been looked at. There is constant research on the genes linked to memory variation. The gene KIBRA is related to the incidence of forgetfulness over a duration in childhood amnesia. A research body's discovery has indicated that six months old can remember the material after a one-day period. There are research revelations that as children develop they can store material for even longer durations; nine-month-old infants remember material after even thirty-five days and twenty-month babies recall information for up to one year. Most research indicates that with age advancement, infants record data faster. Of importance to note is that six-month-olds remember material over a short term, but they experience difficulties in remembrance of the temporary order of data. However, nine months old can recognize the activities of sequences of two stages in the right order. There are suggestions that the above age variations are due to the partial development of the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and the frontal regions of the brain at six months of growth. Childhood amnesia has made it difficult in the investigation of child sexual abuse, because the kids are unable to recall actual events hence making it difficult in making case rulings.

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Amnesia the most common type of memory disorder is characterized by lack of memory due to brain injury, illness or mental trauma. It can also be caused temporarily by the intake of several kinds of medicine; sedation medicine and hypnotics. Memory loss either is full or partial depending on the injury experienced. Main categories are; retrograde which is characterized by the inability to encode memory that existed before the onset of the condition. However, the patient is able to encode memory obtained after the onset of the condition. It is categorized and anterograde. Retrograde amnesia sufferers cannot recollect data obtained prior to a specific time, usually injury or surgery which can take many years of a few months. Anterograde amnesia patients cannot transfer new data from short-term to long-term store. It is characterized by inability to recall information for an extended duration. These amnesia kinds are not interdependent, can occur co-currently in a person.

Types of Amnesia

There are quite a number of amnesia depending on the presenting complaint and signs of the client. They are all caused by different factors thus can be managed differently in order to improve the patients quality of life. However, it is not always reversible. Most of the time, amnesiac is a permanent state that cannot be reversed sadly. The first category includes anterograde amnesia. This is the type of amnesia that involves loss of memory from the time of onset. It is as a result of damage to the brain due to malnutrition, long term alcohol, surgery, trauma stroke, cerebroverscular events anoxia or wernikes-korsakoff syndrome. The two brain regions that are involve with this kind of memory are the diencephalon ad the medial temporal lobe.

Secondly, is retrograde amnesia that involves loss of memory from the time of onset backwards. However, one may be able to encode memory after the onset of the condition. Trauma causes it to various parts of the brain excluding the hippocampus that is responsible for encoding of new memory. These people are likely only to remember general knowledge and not specifics although over time the strength of memory returns back in most cases due to the preparation process that takes place on the damaged part of the brain. Thus, the ability to recover from this situation entirely depends on the extent of brain damage.

Posttraumatic amnesia comes in after the patient is involved in an injury to the brain. The various causes of both anterograde and retrograde amnesia that accident related can cause this condition. Recovery back to normal condition entirely relies on the extent of damage, and the presentation may predict either anterograde amnesia or retrograde amnesia or mixed forms depending on the level of damage to the brain. At the same time, they suffer may lose even the memory on who people are hence, and the names of the closest family members form the nuclear family.

Dissociative amnesia is as a result of psychological problem unlike the others that are due to direct damage to the brain. Dissociative amnesia can further be grouped into repressed memory that is blocked from access by a persons psychological mechanisms. The memories that cannot be accesses include those episodes that the victim might have experienced traumatic or stressful events. Dissociative fugues are caused by psychological trauma too. However in this case, the patient regains back the memories after some period. These people, sometimes they loose orientation of self, place and time. Thus, they will be moving from one place to another without the knowledge of where they are going or coming from in the process. Posthypnotic amnesia occur when shared memories are not recalled easily or the tendency of forgetting of events during the hypnosis period. Failure to recall these events is induced by suggestions made that are made during the hypnosis process.

Effects of Amnesia

People suffering from amnesia are most of the time aware of the surround, themselves and lucid. However, they are faced with a big challenge of learning and applying new information at the same time forming new memories. Although to a great extent the attention span, judgment, awareness, general intelligence or knowledge is not affected. Moreover, the personality traits and sense of identity is also left intact in these patients. Amnesia and dementia present with distinct features of memory loss. Therefore a differential diagnosis is very important in determining the exact causes of memory loss. It will help to determine the type of care that will be coded this patients in order to improve their qualities of life by regaining that ability to reason and remember events with friends and relatives.

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Most of the time's amnesia patients heal by themselves with time. However in some cases where there was no substantial brain damage, one can have continued exposure of the objects events and the people that he or she had forgotten in order to keep up with the memories. In cases where there is an underlying disease that is causing the disease, it can be treated so as to prevent further progress of the condition in these patients. Therefore, management of these patients has to be patient with the underlying cause of or eventual disappearance of the disease with time.

Conclusion

Memory and encoding it is crucial in people lives. It forms a very crucial part of life because most of the things are learned and retained for use over time. Therefore, loss of the knowledge of information gained is very detrimental to the people. There various types of memories either long time short term memories play a great role too. They are used for communication and always remain the bearers of various things and on how to behave in a particular circumstance that may be a resemblance to experience. Amnesia reaps off one the ability to relate with others hence should be managed as soon as possible. Despite the fact that there is no direct treatment of the condition, one can be introduced to the recommended treatment modalities that reduce the severity of amnesia overtime. At the same time, it can be reduced by dealing with the underlying cause that is causing death of the brain cells. Lastly the different types of amnesia guide he management of being provided to the client at that point into item, to accelerate healing besides ensuring that the diagnosis made is the correct one.

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