Memory: Neuropsychological, Imaging, and Psychopharmacological Perspectives

Memory: Neuropsychological, Imaging, and Psychopharmacological Perspectives

Memory: Neuropsychological, Imaging, and Psychopharmacological Perspectives

Memory: Neuropsychological, Imaging, and Psychopharmacological Perspectives

Synopsis

Memory: Neuropsychological, Imaging and Psychopharmacological Perspectives reviews critically the impact of recent neuropsychological and biological discoveries on our understanding of human memory and its pathology. Too often, insights from clinical, neurological and psychopharmacological fields have remained isolated and mutually unintelligible. Therefore the first part of this book provides both clinicians and neuroscientists with a broad view of the neuropsychology of memory, and the psychobiological processes it involves, including recent advances from imaging technology and psychopharmacology research. In the second part the authors go on to cover a comprehensive range of memory assessments, dysfunctions, impairments and treatments. This compendium of current research findings will prove an invaluable resource for anyone studying, researching or practising in the field of memory and its disorders.

Excerpt

The ability to store and recall information is one of the most amazing capacities of higher organisms. As human adults, we can remember events that happened in our earliest childhood. We can recall skills learned far in the past. Our memories encapsulate our sense of personal identity, our cultural identities, and the meaning of our lives. We can even be influenced by memories that we cannot explicitly remember. However, we all remember-of that there can be no doubt. Whether we remember accurately or inaccurately, in detail or in abstract, are questions that researchers have investigated for many years. The study of memory has a long history, with psychologists such as William James and Hermann Ebbinghaus using the tools of their day to try to understand some of its basic properties. Ebbinghaus made important innovations that enabled memory research to be conducted methodologically and he did what we recognise as the first experimental studies (Ebbinghaus, 1885/1909).

Research has clearly shown that memory and retention are dynamic processes that are relatively sophisticated even in very young children. Although neurophysiological immaturities constrain the young infant's perceptual abilities in the early postnatal months, babies are fully capable of storing and retrieving information in the visual world (Howe & Courage, 1993). Another more fundamental question is why do we forget? There are many animals that can survive without having memories of critical moments in their lives. Although they have no vivid memories of sexual encounters, loss of loved ones, and so on, yet they appear to survive with an adaptive fitness equal to our own. There should be reasons why humans have conscious recollection of the past. Perhaps a better understanding of the functions of memory would provide some explanations. New learning and memorisation are cognitive functions that, like attention, are multidimensional systems. Recent studies designed within the framework of cognitive psychology have yielded substantial insights regarding the cognitive and neurological substrates mediating normal and pathological human memory (Heindel et al., 1993). These studies have shown that memory should not be thought of as a single homogeneous entity but rather as being composed of many distinct interacting systems that are mediated by specific neuroanatomical substrates. Memory works by making links between information, fitting facts into mental structures and frameworks. The more one is actively remembering, the more facts and frameworks one

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