Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Despite brain damage, working memory functions -- within limits

Date:
October 13, 2010
Source:
University of California -- San Diego
Summary:
Scientists report that working memory of relational information -- where an object is located, for example -- remains intact even if key brain structures like the hippocampus are damaged.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, led by Larry R. Squire, PhD, professor of psychiatry, psychology and neurosciences at UC San Diego and a scientist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, report that working memory of relational information -- where an object is located, for example -- remains intact even if key brain structures like the hippocampus are damaged.

The findings, published in the Oct. 13, 2010 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, run contrary to previous research that suggested spatial information, especially if it's linked to other kinds of information, necessarily involves the hippocampus and other regions associated with memory.

Working memory is the mental ability to hold small amounts of information in an active, readily available state for a short period of time, typically a few seconds. Conversely, long-term memory involves storing a potentially unlimited amount of information for an indefinite period of time.

Squire and colleagues examined four memory-impaired patients with damage to their medial temporal lobes (MTL), a region of the cerebral cortex containing the hippocampus and linked to long-term memory formation.

The four patients were asked to briefly study an arrangement of objects on a table, then reproduce the objects' relative positions on another table. When the number of objects was three or less, the patients' ability to recall was similar to that of control subjects without brain damage. The impaired patients easily remembered where the objects had been placed in relation to each other.

But "their performance abruptly collapsed when the limit of working memory was reached," said Squire. The patients could not remember the locations of four or more objects because doing so involved tapping into long-term memory functions in the medial temporal lobe.

"The findings provide strong evidence for a fundamental distinction in the brain between working memory and long-term memory, even in the realm of spatial information and spatial-object associations," Squire said.

The work has practical and clinical significance as well, according to Squire.

"It indicates that patients with memory impairment due to MTL damage, including early stage Alzheimer's disease, have a narrower difficulty than what one might have thought. They have an intact ability to hold information in mind, and an ability to work with it on a temporary basis."

Co-authors of the paper are Annette Jeneson of the UCSD Department of Psychology, and Kristin N. Mauldin of the UCSD Department of Psychiatry.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California -- San Diego. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Annette Jeneson, Kristin N. Mauldin, and Larry R. Squire. Intact Working Memory for Relational Information after Medial Temporal Lobe Damage. Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 30: 13624-13629 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2895-10.2010

Cite This Page:

University of California -- San Diego. "Despite brain damage, working memory functions -- within limits." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101012173220.htm>.
University of California -- San Diego. (2010, October 13). Despite brain damage, working memory functions -- within limits. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101012173220.htm
University of California -- San Diego. "Despite brain damage, working memory functions -- within limits." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101012173220.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins