How good is your memory

CogniFit - Long-term memory

What is long-term memory?

Long-term memory can be used as a cerebral mechanism To be definedwhich allows us to encode an almost infinite amount of information and keep it for a long time. The memories that are stored in long-term memory can last from a few seconds to several years.

Long-term memory is an important key function for the correct and independent performance of everyday tasks. This form of memory relates to the brain's ability to store events, knowledge or skills and to be able to call them up again at a later point in time. Long-term memory is a very large and complex skill that encompasses many parts of the brain. Because of this, it is very sensitive to brain injury. Fortunately, cognitive training and exercise can improve this important cognitive function.

The leading brain training program from CogniFit enables memory and other important cognitive skills to be activated and strengthened. The memory training games are designed to stimulate certain neural activation patterns. The repeated activation of these cognitive patterns can help strengthen the neural connections that are important for memory and form new synapses that are able to restore or reorganize damaged or impaired cognitive functions.

Components of long-term memory

If we consider the time that information lasts in the memory system, the following types of memory can be distinguished: sensory memory (ultra-short-term memory), working memory (short-term memory) and long-term memory. Long-term memory, in turn, can be broken down into further components:

  • Declarative memory: Is the type of information stored in memory that we can reproduce verbally. The parts of the brain associated with this type of memory are the medial temporal lobe, the diencephalon, and the neocortex. Declarative memory consists of two sub-forms.
    • Semantic memory: Refers to the collection of information we have about the world. These are general facts that are independent of the person and are detached from the learning episode. This includes our vocabulary, our academic knowledge, and what we know about each concept. For example, we know that the apple is an edible fruit that can be of different colors and grows on an apple tree. However, we probably no longer know when we learned this information.
    • Episodic memory: Contains the memories of concrete experienced events, with a strong connection to the learning episode. For example, we remember what we ate yesterday, where the car was parked, the last time we visited a new city, who attended the birthday party last year, or when we met someone.
  • Non-declarative memory: Is the type of information stored in memory that we cannot verbalize. This information is usually acquired through implicit learning (we may not be aware of this learning process). This type of memory is much more resistant to brain damage and is therefore damaged less often. Different areas of the brain are involved in non-declerative memory, such as the neocortex, the amygdala, the cerebellum and the basal ganglia. It can be further subdivided.
    • Procedural memory: Is a group of information about muscle movements that we have automated through exercise, such as habits and skills. For example, riding a bicycle, driving a car, throwing a ball or using the computer mouse.
    • Priming: Refers to the simplified retrieval of information when a certain concept has been pre-activated in our brain. For example, we need less time to remember the word "raven" if we have spoken of "birds", "gulls" and "swallows" beforehand.
    • Classic conditioning: This is the combination of two stimuli, a conditioned stimulus and a response that was originally paired with an unconditioned stimulus. For example, it is sufficient to ring a bell (conditioned stimulus) just before a puff of air blows into our face (unconditioned stimulus) to blink after hearing the bell after a few repetitions (conditioned reaction). This connection would be part of our non-declarative memory.

Assessment of memory

A good memory capacity is essential in order to accomplish everyday tasks independently and without errors. It is therefore important to know and evaluate the state of our memory. CogniFit has a number of tests to measure memory capacity (more specifically, auditory short-term memory, contextual memory, short-term memory, non-verbal memory, visual short-term memory, working memory and recognition) based on the classic Continuous Performance Test (CPT), the indirect and direct number test of the Weschler Memory Scale (WMS), the classic NEPSY test, the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA), the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM), the Visual Organization Task (VOT) and the Tower of London Test (TOL). In addition to memory capacity, these tests also measure reaction time, processing speed, naming, visual perception, updating, planning, visual scanning and spatial imagination.

  • Sequential test WOM-ASM: a series of balls with different numbers appear on the screen. The series of numbers must be memorized in order to reproduce them afterwards. At the beginning the series of numbers only consists of a single number, the number of numbers then increases steadily until a mistake is made. Each series of numbers presented must be reproduced immediately after the presentation.
  • Research test REST-COM: Objects appear for a short time. Then the right word for the presented object must be selected as quickly as possible.
  • Identification test COM-NAM: Objects are presented either as an image or as a sound (word). During the presentation, the user must indicate whether the named / shown object was last presented as a sound, image or not at all.
  • Concentration test VISMEM-PLAN: randomly arranged objects appear on the screen. The objects now light up simultaneously with the sounding of a tone in a certain order and form a series. The user is required to pay attention to both the illuminated objects and the sound. The user then has to click on the objects in the same order.
  • Recognition test WOM-REST: Three objects appear on the screen. The three objects and their order must be memorized as quickly as possible. This is followed by four series with three objects. The user has to select the series with three objects that correspond to the series shown at the beginning both in the order and the type of the objects.
  • Recovery test VISMEM: Images appear on the screen for about 5 to 6 seconds. During this time, the user must try to memorize the image and the objects that appear on it as well as possible. The image then disappears and statements about the image are presented, from which the user must select the correct one.

Examples of long-term memory

  • Most of the knowledge we acquire in academia is stored in our semantic memory. So when we study or remember the geography of our country, anatomy, chemistry, math, or any other subject, we get our long-term memory going.
  • When we work in a restaurant and have to remember which dish which person has ordered at each table, we make use of our episodic memory. The same applies if we know, for example, who are the regular customers.
  • When we learn to ride a bicycle, it is very difficult for us to cover just a few meters without falling. This is because we don't yet know exactly how to move our muscles. Then, when we have practiced enough, our procedural memory is responsible for the motor skills that we have automated. This allows us to just get on a bike without thinking. Something similar happens when we learn to drive a car.
  • We use long-term memory to remember where our car is, the cell phone charging cable, which is the capital of Germany or any other information that we need to keep from one day to the next.

Pathologies and disorders associated with long-term memory problems

Forgetting itself is not a memory disorder. In fact, memory gets rid of the information that we use the least, especially as we get older, which is a perfectly normal process. However, there is also pathological forgetting: either the inability to generate new memories (anterograde amnesia) and / or the inability to recall memories from the past (retrograde amnesia). On the other hand, there is hypermnesia, an involuntary recall of very detailed and vivid memories, as is sometimes the case with post-traumatic stress disorder, for example. It should also be mentioned that in some disorders the memory content can be changed, for example in Korsakoff's syndrome, in which those affected involuntarily think up memories because they are unable to remember the real ones.

One of the most well-known memory disorders is Alzheimer's disease, which primarily affects episodic memory, although memory problems can also occur in other forms of dementia, such as semantic dementia, in which the affected memory system is the semantic memory, or in Parkinson's disease. Disease that affects procedural memory. In these cases, combinations of retrograde and anterograde amnesia often occur. Anterograde amnesias are also common in traumatic brain injury and brain injury from stroke (more common than retrograde amnesias). In these cases, memories are often falsified. The consumption of certain drugs or substances can also lead to temporary or permanent memory loss.