The process of learning and memory are two intertwined aspects of the human mindset that incorporate critical changes in one’s behavior arising from the experience of interacting with the surrounding world. As described by Gluck, Mercado & Myers (2016), memory serves as the record of past experiences acquired as a result of learning. Studying memory mechanisms is one of the most complex research topics in psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience. Therefore, the researchers developed different memory models representing the particular structure of memory systems in the individual’s brain. With that said, this paper examines Squire’s model of memory and discusses the issue of memory impairment based on the case study.
Squire’s Model of Memory
Larry Squire is a leading researcher of the neurological bases of memory that were examined based on animal models and human patients with memory impairment. More specifically, Squire proposed a memory model that makes a distinction between long-term memory and declarative (or explicit) memory versus procedural (or implicit) memory (Squire, Genzel, Wixted, & Morris, 2015). According to Gluck, Mercado & Myers (2016), declarative memory represents a memory category that includes both “semantic and episodic memory,” which can typically be verbalized or declared (p. 85). In addition, declarative memory comprises knowledge, ideas, information, and stories.
This type of memory can be consciously assessed, meaning that one can verbally report his or her declarative memory. For instance, Tulving stated that declarative memory consists of two types of memory, such as semantic and episodic memory (Gluck, Mercado & Myers, 2016). The processes within declarative memory involve the hippocampus and related structures in the medial temporal lobe. The declarative memory, along with its semantic and episodic memories, incorporate the “frontal and parietal cortex, as well as diencephalon” that play a pivotal role in this memory process (Gluck, Mercado & Myers, 2016, p. 113). Concerning procedural memory, it involves particular skills or sequences of behavior, which cannot be consciously inspected or verbally reported. Such memory type relies on several brain structures, including the cerebellum and limbic system.
Memory Impairment: H.M. Case Study
H.M. is considered the most notable patient in the history of psychology diagnosed with memory impairment. Since the age of ten, H.M. suffered from epileptic seizures, the episodes wherein the brain’s neurons were defined by wild and uncontrollable shots. Moreover, such episodes dramatically progressed with age, and the seizures became frequent and debilitating. The epileptic seizures could start whether in the left or right hemisphere, typically in the medial temporal lobe, the inner surface of the temporal lobe. The successful medical intervention implied the removal of “5 cm of tissue from each side of the patient’s brain” (Gluck, Mercado & Myers, 2016, p. 104). However, H.M. developed anterograde amnesia, an ineptitude to create new episodic and semantic memories. Such a memory impairment after the operation resulted from bilateral damage to the hippocampus and associated nearby cortical areas and affected only his memory structure.
Memory and learning are closely associated concepts of human psychology, as well as medical perspectives on the human brain function. Learning requires physical changes in neural circuits that can affect their firing behavior. Therefore, they cannot be examined as single cohesive processes. In contrast, memory and learning are analyzed through different memory models and types that can properly explain the human mind. The case study with an H.M. patient who faced memory impairment after the medical intervention has deeply influenced the development of brain science and enhanced the general understanding of human memory.
Gluck, M. A., Mercado, E., & Myers, C. E. (2016). Learning and memory: From brain to behavior. Worth.
Squire, L. R., Genzel, L., Wixted, J. T., & Morris, R. G. (2015). Memory consolidation. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 7(8), a021766. Web.