Explanations for Disorders of Memory

What is amnesia?
A partial or total loss of memory (either temporarily or permanently)- there are two types of amnesia retrograde and anterograde
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What is retrograde amnesia?
When you can't remember any memories from before the amnesia
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What is anterograde?
The inability to make new long term memories
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What causes amnesia?
Accidental impact, degeneration of brain tissue or dementia
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How do we study amnesia?
Autopsies- however this doesn't show cause and effect and doesn't provide us with any knowledge about the early ages & animal research- studying sea snails has shown that there are changes in the synapse when things are learnt
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What is explicit and implicit memory?
Explicit (aka. declarative) is fact based information when recall of information is conscious & implicit (aka. procedural) is when recall in unconscious e.g. riding a bike
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Schacter (1987)
Many amnesiacs p;erform better on tests that involve less us of the explicit memory and more use of the implicit memory e.g. Gollin test- HM
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Stickgold (2000)
Found that normal people could spend time learning to play Tetris, improve at it and describe how to play it whereas people with amnesia improve (slower) and are unable to describe how to do it
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What is Relational Memory Binding?
Ryan et al (2000) amnesiacs lack the function which links explicit and implicit memory- can't recall relationships between the memories
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What is a temporal gradient?
Indicated that memories need to be consolidated and integrated into the LTM otherwise they are lost- therefore one theory is that amnesia is an issue with the consolidation of the LTM
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Isaac and Mayes (1999)
Tested anterograde amnesiacs with word lists- found that they performed normally on tests where they were given semantically similar cues therefore amnesia is about the consolidation of memories rather than retrieval
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What causes problems with consolidation?
Bang on the head, brain surgery (HM) or a virus (Clive Wearing)
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Reed and Squire (1998)
Used MRI scans of retrograde amnesiacs and found that they all had damage to the hippocampus- and that those with worst symptoms also had damage to the temporal lobe
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Remondes and Schman (2004)
Rats with damage to the hippocampus could learn a new maze but forgot it quickly- suggesting that the hippocampus is to do with the consolidation of memories
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What are the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease?
Hallucinations, memory loss, confusion, insomnia, cognitive problems and depression
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What can cause Alzheimer's?
Degeneration of brain tissue (usually starts in the late 40's/50's)
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How is Alzheimer's Disease explained?
In a normal person amyloid precursor protein is changed into B-amyloid protein 40 whereas in someone with alzheimer's APP is changed into B-amyloid protein 42- plaques build up in the brain and changes the behaviour of neurons during learning
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Selkoe (2000)
Plaques start to form before symptoms of alzheimer's, the cerebal cortez also begins to shrink and some damage occurs to the hippocampus
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Bernston et al (2002)
Alzheimer's effects memory because it damages parts of the basal forebrain which controls alertness and attention & the link between plaques and alzheimer's is very weak and hard to explain
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What are tangles in the brain?
When the cell body begins to disintergrate
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What animal studies are there on Alzheimer's?
Dogs- they do deposit B-amyloid proteins but do not develop plaques and tangles & chimps- have the same B-amyloid as humans but do not develop cognitive problems in old age
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Why aren't these studies generalisable?
A humans brain is a lot more complex, there may be distinct differences between animals and humans that can cause mistakes to be made in research
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Lott (1982)
Found that those with Downes Syndrome who live into their middle age develop alzheimer's very early- this led to psychologists looking for links between chromosome 21 and alzheimer's
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What weakness is there with the research into chromosomes and the relationship it has with alzheimers?
Every experiment has found a different outcome- lacks reliability (consistency)
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How do genes effect the likelihood of someone getting alzheimer's?
Genes play a role in producing more B-amyloid proteins which explains why some individuals are more prone to alzheimer's
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St George-Hislop (2000)
However, half of all alzheimer's patients have no known relative with the disease suggests that the genetic influence is small- but this might be because it has gone undiagnosed or that they may have died early
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What is retrograde amnesia?


When you can't remember any memories from before the amnesia

Card 3


What is anterograde?


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Card 4


What causes amnesia?


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Card 5


How do we study amnesia?


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