Michael, a 52-year-old doctor, is worried about memory problems he has had recently. His marriage is on the edge of divorce due his wife being upset about his long work hours. He states that his wife has started complaining that he has become very forgetful. When asked to give examples, he stated that his wife asked him to pick up food at the grocery store and after repeating the short shopping list back to his wife, not only did Michael forget the items, he forgot to stop at the market at all. Michael reports that he has been very anxious lately about his work at the hospital due to many changes that will take place and he is fearful of losing his job and not being able to start his own private practice at his age. He attended a conference last week to earn credits for continuing education, which is required for his job, but he struggled to pay attention. Michael’s working and short term memory is being affected by his emotions and stress. Working memory is short-term memory that has very limited capacity in which we can attend to only about seven items at a time. Each piece of information that comes into short-term memory storage must be continuously rehearsed. Long-term memory does not have to be constantly rehearsed in order for information to be kept in storage. Information stored in long-term memory stays there for a long time. In order to use memory from long-term it must be moved to working memory or retrieved. As with Michael, the information that he received for example the grocery list and the continuing education notes, some of the information that he received by personal interactions was forgotten and some was stored in his long-term memory. This is part of the information process, in which when new information arrives; the old information was integrated with the new information. This process is like retrieving information from long-term memory to integrate it with new information then storing the new information in long-term memory. This may be the reason why Michael could not retain the simple information from his wife to go to the grocery store, as well as his class notes that made no sense to him. The ability to learn and store information in working memory is very limited, and results vary according to age, capacity and attention. Attention is required for the brain to work with new information. When the memory system is aware of new information, it repeats it continuously until there is time to recall and incorporate information from the permanent storage area (LTM) that is used to provide context for new information. The ability to create new memories, store them for periods of time and recall them when they are needed is how we to learn and interact with the world around us. Michael’s ability to complete his memories are affected by stress and anxiety brought on by his family and work life. Memory is the process that is used to acquire, store, retain and later retrieve information. In order to form new memories, information must be changed into a usable form, which occurs through the process known as encoding. Once information has been successfully encoded, it must be stored in memory for later use. With Michael, much of his stored memory appears to be stored unconsciously most of the time, except when he actually needs to use it. The retrieval process allows us to bring stored memories into conscious awareness. While several different models of memory have been proposed, the stage of memory is often used to explain the basic structure and function of memory. A brain structure that has been identified as critical for the formation of several kinds of memories is the hippocampus, which is a small, elongated structure located inside the temporal lobe. When the hippocampus has been damaged, due to stroke, infection or brain surgery, lose the capacity to form long-term memories. They can remember things for a few seconds, but as soon as they get...
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