The purpose/mission of the National Brain Injury Foundation is to provide social support groups, advocacy, and information to people with brain injuries and their families.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Memory problems can be a major source of frustration after a brain injury. Different types of brain injuries or diseases can affect memory in different ways. For example, brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen in the brain (caused by near drowning or a heart attack) may cause the brain to have difficulty in storing new information. These people may quickly forget what they have done or are told (Hobler and Carey, 1973). People with damage to their frontal lobes because of a car accident may have difficulty retrieving previously stored information. Cueing can help these people access this information. Understanding the different types of memory can go a long way in creating a successful rehabilitation program and for choosing effective compensatory strategies. 

The following are different types of memory that can be affected by brain injury:

Episodic memory: is the memory of autobiographical events (times, places, associated emotions and other contextual knowledge) (Schacter, Gilbert, Wegner, 2011). Examples of difficulty with episodic memory would include forgetting about a visit with a friend the previous day. 

Semantic memory: refers to concept-based knowledge, meanings, understandings, factual and general knowledge (The Brain from Top to Bottom). These memories may include the knowledge of a phone number used on a daily basis or knowing the Provinces and Territories in Canada without knowing a specific reference as to where it was learnt.

Procedural memory: is the memory for specific types of actions. They are well established sequences that often involve motor skills (Squire, 2004). Procedural learning involves repeating an activity over and over again until it is automatically produced. This may include a child learning the route to school without specific directions.

Retrograde memory: This is the autobiographical memory acquired for the events that occurred in a person’s life before a brain injury. It is may include school, a wedding, or a family trip. Retrograde amnesia describes damage to this type of memory (Hunkin, 1995).

References: Hobler, K.E.; L.C. Carey (1973). "Effect of acute progressive hypoxemia on cardiac output and plasma excess lactate". Ann Surg 177 (2): 199–202. doi:10.1097/00000658-197302000-00013. PMC 1355564. PMID 4572785. Hunkin, N. M., Parkin, A. J., Bradley, V. A., Burrows, E. H., Aldrick, F. K., Jansari, A., & Burdon-Cooper, C. (1995). Focal retrograde amnesia following closed head injury: A case study and theoretical account, Neuropsychologia, 33(4), 509-523. Schacter, Daniel L., Gilbert, Daniel T., and Wegner, Daniel M. "Semantic and episodic memory". Psychology; Second Edition. New York: Worth, Incorporated, 2011. 240-241. Print. Squire, L.R. (2004). Memory systems of the brain: A brief history and current perspective. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. 82; 171-177.