Definition of Memory

Memory: 1. The ability to recover information about past events or knowledge. 2. The process of recovering information about past events or knowledge. 3. Cognitive reconstruction. The brain engages in a remarkable reshuffling process in an attempt to extract what is general and what is particular about each passing moment.

Memory may be divided into short-term (also known as working or recent memory) and long-term memory. Short-term memory recovers memories of recent events, while long-term memory is concerned with recalling the more distant past.

Some disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, damage the cognitive systems that control memory. Usually long-term memory is retained while short-term memory is lost; conversely, memories may become jumbled, leading to mistakes in recognizing people or places that should be familiar.

See also: Explicit memory; Implicit memory.

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Last Editorial Review: 8/28/2013

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