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Many neuropsych tests assess a person's memory or degree of memory loss. But what is memory exactly? Rutgers University (specifically their Memory Disorders Project)puts out an excellent newsletter called Memory Loss and the Brain. Their Web site features online versions of the newsletter as well as an extended Glossary and a good list of Resources with links.The following is from the Glossary:
Memory refers to the storage, retention and recall of information including past experiences, knowledge and thoughts. Memory for specific information can vary greatly according to the individual and the individual's state of mind. It can also vary according to the content of the information itself; thus information which is novel or exciting tends to be better remembered than information which is uninteresting or ordinary. Failure of memory can normally result from failure to adequately store the memory in the first place, failure to retain the information (forgetting), and failure to retrieve the information later.

The precise biological mechanisms of memory are not fully understood, but most scientists believe that memory results from changes in connections or connection strengths between neurons in the brain.

Sensory memory refers to the fact that, after experiencing a stimulus, information about that stimulus is briefly held in memory in the exact form it was received, until it can be further processed.

Short-term memory refers to memories which last for a few minutes.
Intermediate-term or working memory is sometimes considered a synonym for short-term memory. However, memory researchers often consider this a specialized term referring for information about the current task. Thus, even though a specific phone number may occupy short-term memory, working memory contains the information that lets you remember that you are in the process of phoning the gas company to complain about a recent billing error.

Long-term memory is memory that lasts for years or longer. It contains everything we know about the world, including semantic and factual information as well as autobiographical experience.

Read it all here.

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