Disorders of Memory A2 WJEC Psychology

For the essay title: Discuss explanations for disorders of memory.

Key points, Structure, examples, etc. Grade A.


Disorders of Memory - Essay Structure

Intro: Q: What are Memory Disorders? How do we get them? A: Brain damage.

Link in example, e.g. Strokes cause amnesia. Then ask yourself: HOW? Be concise when discussing biological causes. 2 to 3 points should cover it... So... Brain deprived of oxygen and glucose (1). Blood flow to the Brain is interrupted (2). This HYPOXIA causes Brain cells to die causing LOCALISED DAMAGE (3).

P1: Continue by discussing an example of a disorder caused by Brain damage such as Amnesia.

Define Amnesia as a condition.

Define Sub-sections of Amnesia: Retrograde and Anterograde Amnesia.

Discuss which types of brain damage cause each type of Amnesia e.g. Stroke = Retrograde Amnesia, Hypoxia/Anoxia = Anterograde amnesia. ALWAYS REMEMBER TO DISCUSS GENERALLY. THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.

1 of 5

Essay structure continued

P2: Discuss another cause of Amnesia e.g Brain Surgery.

- Several areas of the Brain involved in the process of making and storing memories: Temporal, Frontal and Parietal lobes. Hippocampi in Temporal lobes.

- Real life example: Case of HM. Hippocampus removed in an attempt to aleviate severe Epilepsy. While this was successful, Anterograde Amnesia was the consequence. Could remember events before Hippocampus was removed. Couldn't lay down new memories. LTM and STM intact, but could not transfer STM's to the LTM.

-Discuss how the case of HM has been useful in determining which areas of the brain play a role in the processes of our memory.  Suggests Hippocampi are the link between the STM and the LTM.

-Say how this case is supportive of the theory that there are several SEPARATE memory stores, as demonstrated in the MULTI STORE MODEL OF MEMORY by Atkinson and Shiffrin.

2 of 5

Essay structure continued.

P3: Discuss another cause of Amnesia such as Alzheimer's Disease (AD)

-Define, describe (symptoms, how brain is damaged,etc.)

Discuss the roles of genes and environment in the development of Alzheimer's. Also, Familial Alzheimer's Disease.

P4: Discuss another cause. Example: Thiamine deficiency. Define, describe.

All of the above causes have so far been Biological, so next we move on to Psychological causes.

P5: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What is it? How is it triggered? Give examples of where PTSD is common, e.g. in war veterans. Relate to Hippocampi.

3 of 5

Essay structure continued

Discuss how PTSD can lead to Anterograde Amnesia - association with Hippocampi, and also how in cases of PTSD how the repression of unpleasant memories can lead to Retrograde Amnesia.                                                    Discuss symptoms: list no more than 4. Choode the most significant, for example: avoidance of anything that is a reminder of the traumatic event, emotional numbness etc.  One of the most important aspects of PTSD is that of the uncontrolled recurrent thoughts about the traumatic event, manifested as flashbacks of intrusive thoughts.

Lastly, discuss the idea of déjà vu; a condition considered 'normal' in the western world. To impress say: The term déjà vu translates literally from French as 'already seen' and define as ' a subjective impression for familiarity of a current experience with an undefined past' - meaning that we feel as thogh we have at some point in the past, carried out/ witnessed identical actions/experiences.

Discuss research: suggests that déjà vu is caused by occassional spontaneous seizures in the Hippocampi. Discuss link with mental instability, - schizophrenia.

4 of 5

Essay Structure continued

Conclusion:  In the conclusion, recap the interplay betwen nature/nurture or genetics/environment - However you want to put it, in the development of a memory disorder, and how each disorder varies greatly from individual to individual due to the fact that we are all completely unique, both genetically speaking (except monozygotic twins) and in terms of our lifestyles.

If you follow this plan, including all of the examples, definitions, etc. You should pretty much get full marks. Especially with the fancy bits e.g. the definitions. And also the conclusion. This will show that you really understand the disorders and how the develop, and their various 'causes'.

And the great thing is that, if you tweak the examples, you could use this structure for your abnormal psychology 'aetiologies' and you intelligence 'role of the environment/role of genetics' and your controversies 'nature/nurture'!

Good Luck. Although you shouldn't need it if you transfer this from your STM to your LTM (assuming you have fully functioning Hippocampi!) :D

5 of 5


Roisin McDonough


How do we view the text that goes beyond the square box??

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »