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Learning & Memory

According to researchers such as Banich (2004), memory refers to he process by which we encode, store and retrieve information. Encoding refers to the processing of the information to be stored. For instance, you may encode a list of spelling words by reviewing them multiple times. The rehearsal of the information leads to consolidation, or strengthening of its representation while it is stored. For the information that is stored in memory to be useful we need to be able to retrieve it. The importance of memory to our functioning as human beings cannot be understated. Everything from remember a doctor’s appointment to responding to test questions requires some memory function. It is therefore not surprising that this is one of the primary foci during the evaluation process.

Memory functioning is assessed through a variety of techniques that allow the neuropsychologist to break the process down into its components. Thus, memory for verbal and visual information will be assessed as will the ability to recall information immediately after it is presented (e.g., working memory) and following a specified delay (long-term memory). Explicit memory, which involves the conscious recollection of information and implicit memory, which involves the ability to complete a task that has been previously learned (often referred to as procedural memory) are also assessed. This allows the neuropsychologist to discriminate where an individual who appears to be ‘forgetful’ is having difficulty.