Tag Archives: hippocampus

The 5 Major Brain Areas: Memory

The human brain is very complex and responsible for all behavior, and we are continually learning new information about how it operates. Behavioral and cognitive functions can be organized into five distinct domains to include : Memory,  Attention & Concentration, Language Skills, Visual & Spatial and Executive Functions (Logic & Reasoning).

Memory

Memory and new learning is a necessary and important function of the human brain. Our ability to live independently and to function normally is a direct result of a normal memory system. Our life story is built by encoding and retaining our daily experiences. Our personal identity is framed by our memory and ability to learn from these memories.

Memory and new learning begins with the Hippocampus, a critical structure in the middle temporal lobes of both hemispheres of the brain. This is the structure that enables learning and transition of new learning into a permanent storage site in the Cortex. The Hippocampus has the ability to generate new brain cells with stimulating environments, can be damaged with chronic stress, and is hit early by Alzheimer’s disease. Damage to the Hippocampus results in memory deficits.
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Is it Alzheimer’s or just normal aging?

I am frequently asked what the difference is between memory changes associated with normal aging and that related to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). First, the memory changes associated with normal aging are not a disease. The typical pattern of memory change with advanced age is a deficit in retrieval. A healthy older brain can encode information because the hippocampus is relatively healthy. This permits new information to be encoded. The older adult has some difficulty retrieving that new information, but with cues and prompts they retrieve the information as well as those in their thirties.

In contrast, a brain with AD has a damaged hippocampus that prevents new information from being encoded. This means that new learning does not take place and that cures and prompts do not help because the information is not there to be prompted.

In general, a healthy older adult encodes new information, but needs some help in retrieving what has been encoded. A brain with AD does not encode new information and therefore cues and prompts will not help with retrieval.

Fore more information about Alzheimer’s Disease