I’ve made a fatal mistake last night, I forgot to switch off the stove but luckily one of my friends was there to turn it off before something worse happen. I guess it was not the first time I’ve made similar mistake, but it was the worst one. I began to think what is wrong with me? Why is it very hard for me to follow a procedural process? I always forgot to close a drawer, I rarely put something back to its place after I have finished using it, I often missed one action during performing procedural actions. While I have problem in performing procedural actions, I can remember an event clearly, I could recall almost the exact things happened in that event, I could memorize a person, even their full name and since I love to read, I could also remember the facts that I have read just fine.
So, What is happening with me? After the tragedy last night, I dig my neuropsychology books and skimming the memory section. I found out that there might be something wrong with my implicit memory, not an impairment, maybe my explicit memory is slightly better then my implicit memory.
What Is these Implicit memory and Explicit memories?
Well then, the story had to begin with an explanation of what Memory is.
Memory (based on this site) refers to the processes that are used to acquire, store, retain and later retrieve information. We all are very common to two types of memory which is long-time and short time memory and H.M case of brain resection provide us new knowledge about different kind of learning and memory which can be expressed by the term “multiple memory systems” (Kolb & Wishaw, 2008).
Long-term Memory consists of three types, they are Explicit, Implicit and Emotional while the Short-term memory (also called as Working memory) according to Kolb & Wishaw (2008) refer to a neural record of recent events and their order, is the system that we use for holding sensory events, movements, and cognitive information such as digits, words, names, or other items for a brief period.
We need to breakdown the types of long-term memory. The first one is Explicit Memory, which is I could tell that I have a good one. Explicit Memory which also called declarative memory which consists of Episodic and Semantic Information, according to Schacter (1992) is Explicit memory refers to intentional or conscious recollection of prior experiences, as assessed in the laboratory by traditional tests of recall or recognition . Episodic memory is memories about events that we could recall that based on our experience like personal or autobiographical information. Semantic memory is memories about facts around us, like information about what is our country name, which one is its National Flag or that Indonesia is located in South-East Asia. We could broaden our knowledge by reading, it could exercise our brain and it is depend on our Explicit Memory whether we could easily recall the information or not.
The second one is Implicit (Non-declarative) Memory which according to Schacter (1992) refers to changes in performance or behavior that are produced by prior experiences on tests that do not require any intentional or conscious recollection of those experiences. It includes skills, habits, priming and conditioning. they are things that we learn through our life. We could perform the task unconsciously because we have learn to do the task before. Took cooking as an example, we know that if we want to fry something, we need to put the pan on the stove, pour the cooking oil, turn on the stove, wait until the oil is hot enough, put the thing that we want to cook on the pan, lift it after they’ve cooked enough, switch off the stove and remove the pan. Those process is a procedural process that we need to do it based on their order and we couldn’t learn about it just by reading, we need to do it first to understand how the things work and we need to repeat doing that process if we want to get used to it. I could tell that maybe I am not so good at doing procedural work because I seldom repeat doing things or I have wrong impression when I’ve done it the first time.
Different between Explicit and Implicit Memory clearly stated by Krupa (2009):
The key distinction between the two memory systems lies in the differential capacity to recall stored information. While declarative memory is subject to conscious recollection, non-declarative memory is expressed through performance and is not accessible through conscious faculties (Squire and Zola, 1996). Additionally, multiple studies reveal a specialization between the two memory systems in that the declarative system appears to be responsible for rapid learning of information about individual trials, whereas the non-declarative learning system seems to be involved in gradual learning across many trials (Poldrack et al., 2001).
The third is Emotional Memory. This memory is both conscious and unconscious and consist of attraction, avoidance and fear. This type of memory is one fascinating subject that I want to write about it separately other time. In short explanation, Emotional memory triggered one emotion every time we are doing, or recalling something form our brain. It effects both explicit and implicit memory because we stored those memory with the emotion we feel when we experience or learn those things.
LaBar and Cabeza (2006) told that :
Emotion has powerful influences on learning and memory that involve multiple brain systems engaged at different stages of information processing.Autobiographical memory research enables ethical assessments of more intense and remote emotional episodes, as well as investigations into emotional influences on the phenomenology of remembering rather than on memory accuracy.
1. Cherry, Kendra. 2008. Memory – Psychology Definition of the Week. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/b/2008/12/15/memory-psychology-definition-of-the-week.htm (June 20, 2013)
2. Kolb, Brian & Ian Q. Wishaw. 2008. Fundamentals of Human Neuropsychology 6th Edition. New York: Worth Publisher
3. Krupa, Allison. 2009. The Competitive Nature of Declarative and Nondeclarative Memory Systems: Converging Evidence from Animal and Human Brain Studies. Retrieved from http://www.studentgroups.ucla.edu/USJ/The_Competitive_Nature_of_Declarative_and_Nondeclarative_Memory_Systems_AKKrupa.pdf (June 20, 2013)
4. LaBar, Kevin & Roberto Cabeza. 2006. Cognitive neuroscience of emotional memory. Retrieved from http://tarantella.aas.duke.edu/files/sites/labar/pub/0501534845.pdf (June 20, 2013)
5. Schacter, Daniel L. 1992. Priming and multiple memory systems: Perceptual mechanisms of implicit memory. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 4(3): 244-256. Retrieved from http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3627272/Schacter_PrimingMultiple.pdf?sequence=2 (June 20, 2013)