Psychopathologies of memory

In the following article, some of the most relevant memory pathologies are being presented. First, memory is a neurocognitive function that consists of the ability to encode information, store it, and retrieve it when needed.

The only pathology not inhibiting memory in any way is Hypermnesia, which is defined as an abnormal increase in the ability to memorize/ excessive retention of memories. This is sometimes found in subjects with high intellectual abilities, that show exceptional memory for certain stimuli. Furthermore, people diagnosed with savant syndrome have severe mental disabilities, but they show spectacular abilities in marked contrast with their overall disability, which may be exceptional memory functioning.

The opposite pathology is Hypomnesia which is defined as a decreased ability to retain new information or to recall previously memorized information. It may have functional or organic cause (e.g., vascular). Nevertheless, it has little clinical significance. Becomes more relevant when memory capacity is altered and decreased until annulment as in amnesia.

Amnesia is defined as the inability to retain new information or to recall previously memorized information. It involves serious loss of memory and ability to learn. Several types of amnesia can be considered, depending on different criteria:

Anterograde Amnesia is the inability to retain or learn new information after the event or injury causing the disorder due to impairment at memory registration and encoding.

Retrograde Amnesia is inability to recover information learned or stored before the injury or trigger event (trauma or mental illness) due to impairment at memory retention and storage.

Antero-Retrograde Amnesia/ Global Amnesia is a rare condition in which an individual is suffering from both anterograde and retrograde amnesia with an organic origin.

Dissociative amnesia describes a condition in which patients cannot recall important personal information (usually trauma- or stress-related) that would not typically be lost with ordinary forgetting. Symptoms cause significant distress or significant impairment in social or occupational functioning.

It is important to distinguish the level of disruption such condition causes in the life of the individual, as it is normal to occasionally experience a partial memory failure due to external or internal reasons of occupation. In contrast, people with a dissociative disorder may totally forget a series of normal behaviors occupying minutes, hours, days, or weeks and may sense a missing period in their experience.

Lastly, the concept of sate-dependent memory is the recall of events or learned material only when the person is in the same drug or medication-induced state under which the event was experienced, or the material learned.

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