Long Term Memory & Key Patient Studies

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‘HM, an Unforgettable Amnesic’ (New York Times, 2008). Critically evaluate the contribution made by HM and other key patient studies to our understanding of human Long-Term Memory. In particular, refer to patient studies of the organisation of conceptual knowledge (e.g. semantic memory) and episodic memories. ‘Long-term memory is a system for permanently storing, managing, and retrieving information for later use. Items of information stored as long-term memory may be available for a lifetime’. (Webster's New World™ Medical Dictionary, 3rd Edition, 2008). Long term Memory can be divided into two main subdivisions: Explicit and implicit memory; Explicit memory is the deliberate recall of information that one recognizes as a memory. Implicit memory is the influence of recent experience on behaviour without realizing one is using memory. Tulving (1978) proposed that Long-term Memory can be categorised into three main groups; semantic, episodic and procedural memory. Semantic memory is involved with storing ideas, meaning and concepts. It is conscious and declarative and is used in retrieving general knowledge as well as the meaning of words. Episodic memory is a conscious and declarative process involved with storing memories of particular events in your life. Procedural memory involves the unconscious and is not declarative. It is responsible for knowing how to do processes such as riding a bike. (Mc Leod, 2010) Patient studies such as HM, EP and others have been instrumental in understanding long term memory. Before these not much was known about how and where long term memory was stored. It was only in the 1950’s after patient HM that the hippocampus was associated with memory. The hippocampus is located inside the medial temporal lobe, beneath the cortical surface of the brain and HM proved the hippocampus was instrumental to the storage and function of long term memory. In 1953 a patient known as HM had brain surgery when he was 27 years old. HM suffered...
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