Essay on Brain Damage

Published: 2021/11/05
Number of words: 1462

Memories are psychological functions that preserve information revolving around the process of encoding, storage, and retrieval. Human memories include the capacity to preserve and recover the data that individuals have experienced and learned. Memory problems might start from minor annoyances to significant diseases such as Alzheimer’s, thereby affecting the quality and the ability to function appropriately (Davies et al., 2010). Moreover, new memories are formed when the information is changed to a usable form, a process known as encoding, whereby it is stored for future use. Some memories last for a short time while others for a longer time. Short term memories include the information that individuals are currently thinking or focusing on. On the other hand, long-term memories endure much longer because they lie outside an individual’s immediate awareness (Matthews, Wells, Pike, and Kinsella, 2018). Mostly, organizing the memory enables a person to make decisions, solve problems, and interact with others effectively. Nonetheless, losing memory is also a possible occurrence when the memory fails to store, retrieval failure and motivated forgetting. Loss of memory may also result due to brain damage. Brain damage is injuries destroying brain cells. Besides, compared to psychological mechanisms, there is more to memory. Memories are not designed for certain functions only, but to multiple specific structures. Studies of brain damage outline the different ways that show how memory can be organized. The answer to the questions of brain damage is to shift the attention to brain-damaged individuals’ studies.

The organization and nature of memories have been vital, especially in responding to how the memory is organized. Nevertheless, starting with philosophers to scientists, the study of brain damage shows some significant results that ended up destroying the memory. For instance, according to Tulving (1989), a patient who survived a motorcycle accident suffered from brain lesions. The patient was unable to remember anything because his right parietal-occipital and his left frontal-parietal regions were affected. The studies show that the patient experienced his past being erased and his future completely evaporated due to brain damage. The author made his assumption from that incident based on brain activities; there were distinctions between recalling personal past and retrieving impersonal knowledge acquired in the past. Different neural mechanisms produce the two systems, whereby the episodic memory being an advanced achievement. This study’s findings leave more questions on the traditional views regarding the unity of the memory, whereby multiple memory systems focus on modern research progress. Furthermore, multiple memory systems are based on evidence of the many kinds of information being processed and stored in the brain.

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The famous case of the emblematic patient H.M also shows how memories are organized, mainly when the encoding dynamic and retrieval of information is not functioning. Studies show that he came out amnesic after the surgery performed on his medial temporal lobe. Moreover, according to Corkin (2002), the surgery was meant to prevent the seizures caused by epilepsy, whereby many researchers arose to find out the cause of his severe amnesia. The patient could not produce new memories, and his case seemed more pervasive since both of his semantic and episodic memory had been destroyed. However, the patient’s language was not affected, he could make some recognitions, and luckily enough, his topographical memory remained intact from the damage. The conclusion made here was that the medial temporal lobe (MTL) structures that got removed during the surgery were essential for the conscious recollection of events and facts as well as new recognition (Postle, Stern, Rosen, and Corkin, 2000). Episodic and semantic memory acquisition shows dependency on the common memory system, ensuring the MTL structures’ intact functioning. Studies show that the two memories are declarative, whereby semantic memory is essential for remembering the general facts, while episodic memory allows an individual to remember personal facts.

Another brain-damaged individual study that shows how memory is organized is neuropsychological research. According to Schacter and Graf (1986), individuals with different deficits and lesions show conscious knowing, remembering, and perceiving. Their memory functions are affected after brain damage. Research shows that the understanding of the stimuli engaged in that process of remembrance is implicit. At this stage, the patients might not process their memories (Schacter, 1987) semantically. Studies show that amnesic patients might benefit more from direct priming, whereby priming exposes one to stimulus influence to respond to a specific subsequent stimulus without guidance or attention. According to Squire and Wixted (2011), human memory and its disorders have encouraged many investigators to research the improvement of an understanding structure and memory organization. Besides, organizing the memories helps an individual to improve decision making and avoid problem-related activities. In addition, the inability to recall conscious traces of faces, events, and facts, whereby an individual can act in temporal and controlled circumstances, is due to the same mechanism of the memory organization. Brain injury can worsen with time and can lead to emotional symptoms and insomnia.

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Memories are not just a thing; it is a mechanistic system that can be topographically traceable like one unit. Memories are open and interconnected psychological and physiological processes of an individual. They are regularly referred to as the brain systems because if they do not work, the brain also fails to work since memory is a natural outcome. An organized memory allows individuals to build relationships and also to work together with others. The organization here refers to the knowledge of the body that helps in improving decisions. Possible causes for the degeneration of brain cells include prolonged hypoxia, infections, poisoning, and neurological illness. Other common causes include physical traumas, stroke, and neurological illness. Studies show that the extent of brain damage and its impact are assessed using aneurysms, neurological examinations, and neuropsychological assessments (Proust et al.,2009). When noticed at an early stage, brain damage does not necessarily lead to disabilities or long-term impairment, it can be treated, and one becomes normal again. However, the damage varies on the type of injury, whereby severe injuries can make someone suffer in whole life with other debilitating problems. According to Anderson (2010), different brain parts hold different kinds of information from observing human brain damage. Each part of the brain system is essential for processing the information.

In conclusion, studies are essential in outlining how the memories are organized. Most of the studies are research-based; hence an individual can depend on them. Memory is a critical part of humans as they play the most significant role in their lives. The discussions above allow individuals to make the right decisions even in the workplace. Once a new memory is formed, it is stored in the brain for future processing. Besides, brain damage depends on the type of injuries an individual has experienced. Memories have different parts used in performing different tasks on the brain. It is important to note that brain injuries do not display the same dynamic of its entire memory-related mechanism as to how the normal brain does. Nonetheless, despite the obvious limitations of learning about the brain, studying brain-damaged individuals makes a fundamental development. More people get to understand how memories are organized.


Anderson, M., 2010. Neural reuse: A fundamental organizational principle of the brain. Behavioral and brain sciences33(4), p.245.

Corkin, S., 2002. What’s new with the amnesic patient HM?. Nature reviews neuroscience3(2), pp.153-160.

Davies, H.D., Newkirk, L.A., Pitts, C.B., Coughlin, C.A., Sridhar, S.B., Zeiss, L.M. and Zeiss, A.M., 2010. The impact of dementia and mild memory impairment (MMI) on intimacy and sexuality in spousal relationships. International Psychogeriatrics22(4), p.618.

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Postle, B.R., Stern, C.E., Rosen, B.R. and Corkin, S., 2000. An fMRI investigation of cortical contributions to spatial and nonspatial visual working memory. NeuroImage11(5), pp.409-423.

Proust, F., Martinaud, O., Gerardin, E., Derrey, S., Levèque, S., Bioux, S., Tollard, E., Clavier, E., Langlois, O., Godefroy, O. and Hannequin, D., 2009. Quality of life and brain damage after microsurgical clip occlusion or endovascular coil embolization for ruptured anterior communicating artery aneurysms: neuropsychological assessment. Journal of neurosurgery110(1), pp.19-29.

Schacter, D.L., 1987. Implicit memory: History and current status. Journal of experimental psychology: learning, memory, and cognition13(3), p.501.

Schacter, D.L. and Graf, P., 1986. Preserved learning in amnesic patients: Perspectives from research on direct priming.

Squire, L.R. and Wixted, J.T., 2011. The cognitive neuroscience of human memory since Annual review of neuroscience34, pp.259-288.

Tulving, E., 1989. Varieties of memory and consciousness: Essays in honour of Endel Tulving.

Psychology Press.

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