What is memory

The process of storing and retrieving information in the brain. Memory is a complex interaction of physical and chemical functions in the brain. Although cognitive functions including memory take place in the cerebrum, and the components of the so-called Pape’s Circuit (most prominently the bilateral brain structures known as the hippocampi) are critical to storing new memories, the exact processes and brain locations responsible for storing and recalling an individual memory remain unclear. Researchers know that the NEUROTRANSMITTER ACETYLCHOLINE is essential for cognitive function. Medications to improve cognitive function including memory that are effective in people with Alzheimer’s disease, in whom acetylcholine becomes depleted in critical areas of the basal forebrain, do not appear to be uniformly successful in people with Parkinson’s, in whom acetylcholine levels remain normal but out of balance as a result of dopamine depletion. However, anti-parkinson’s medications taken to restore dopamine levels in the brain that improve neuro-muscular function also improve cognitive function including memory. This finding suggests that there are varied pathways and processes through which memory storage and retrieval take place.

Short-term memory records information needed for immediate use, such as in reading. The brain’s capacity for short-term memory is limited; information either moves into long-term memory or is “dumped” from the brain. Long-term memory is the brain’s most significant storage and retrieval system. Disturbances with short-term memory can interfere with long-term memory processes. memory impairments that develop with Parkinson’s affect both short-term and long-term memory functions. Activities that exercise memory help to keep it as functional as possible. However, the physical deteriorations that take place in the brain with Parkinson’s disease eventually interfere with memory and cognition.