Fast Five Quiz: Memory Loss and Cognitive Impairment

Helmi L. Lutsep, MD


April 28, 2021

Of the normal memory functions, some decline substantially with increasing age whereas others do not (or do not to the same degree). Memory functions that generally remain relatively stable with increasing age include the following:

  • Semantic memory (ie, facts and general knowledge about the world): Although this function generally remains stable with age, especially if the information is used frequently, retrieval of highly specific information (eg, names) typically declines.

  • Procedural memory (ie, acquisition and later performance of cognitive and motor skills)

Memory functions that generally decline with age include the following:

  • Working memory (ie, holding and manipulating information in the mind): This is used when reorganizing a short list of words into alphabetical order. It includes verbal and visuospatial working speed, memory, and learning. Visuospatial cognition is more affected by aging than verbal cognition.

  • Episodic memory (ie, recalling personal events and experiences)

  • Processing speed

  • Prospective memory (ie, the ability to remember to perform an action in the future)

  • Recalling new text information: This includes the ability to remember new text information, make inferences about new text information, access prior knowledge in long-term memory, and integrate prior knowledge with new text information.

Read more about memory loss and aging.


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