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Memory disorders: types and examples

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Memory is considered as the mechanism that fixes new experiences and updates previous ones, in other words, the ability to fix, preserve and evoke experiences. Its function within the personality of each person is fundamental and therefore, any alteration of this ability can seriously affect the structure of the personality and its ability to remember. Memory, in addition to being related to intelligence, is one of the basic attributes that characterize our species and that, among other things, allows us to use language, learning and human culture.

But what happens when memory problems appear? What types of changes occur? What are the causes that cause them? In the following FastlyHealarticle we are going to deal in depth with this essential function of the human mind, explaining memory disorders: types and examples .

Memory functions

As we have already said, memory is essential for the human being. But do you know what are the main functions of memory that it performs in our day to day? We will explain them to you below:


Fixation is that activity that allows us to capture, elaborate and fix all the information that we receive through the senses in the corresponding brain structures. That is to say, it is the main element that allows learning to take place since thanks to it we can store and retain the information that is given to us.


It is another of the functions of memory and refers to the ability to preserve all the information that we have previously captured. At first it may seem somewhat confusing, and it can be confused with the fixation function, but the difference between the two is that without the capacity for conservation, the information would enter into the brain structures but would easily disappear. The conservation function is what allows it to be retained.


But what use would be the ability to fix and store information if later we cannot retrieve it and use it as we please? The evocation function is what allows us to update and reproduce in our mind the memories that are stored in our memory.

Memory disorders: clinical types

At a clinical level we can distinguish 3 types of memory disorder , these are:

  • Fixation amnesias : it is the one that occurs in all disorders of consciousness. This type of alteration in memory means that the events that happen cannot be retained, it does not have to do with the memory of past events but with the preservation of new ones.
  • Evocation amnesias : contrary to the previous one, in these cases there is a difficulty or inability to retain, preserve or evoke previous experiences.
  • Conservation amnesias : In this case, the memories were fixed and there is nothing to prevent them from being remembered, but they are not preserved. It usually occurs in brain diseases that produce an irreversible deterioration of personality and intellectual abilities.

In addition to these types of amnesia, there may be other alterations that affect some particular performance or systematic amnesias; forgetting the name of objects and their recognition (agnosia), some motor habits (apraxia), language (aphasia), the opposite of amnesia (hypermnesia), etc.

Memory abnormalities by chronology

Although it has some connection with the previous section, another way to distinguish between the types of memory disorders is their chronology. Based on this, we can classify 2 types of memory anomalies:

Anterograde amnesia

We know as anterograde amnesia the inability to fix and store new information after the disorder appears. That is why the affected person can remember everything that they had previously stored, but is unable to capture the new information they receive. This type of amnesia usually appears after head injuries as well as in other organic disorders. These types of amnesias usually resolve over time.

Retrograde amnesia

In this case we come across the opposite of what we have just exposed. In cases of retrograde amnesia, the affected person is not able to remember, totally or partially, the information that had been learned prior to the appearance of the disorder. Generally, the first memories that are forgotten are the closest ones, while the oldest memories are progressively forgotten.

The most paradigmatic example of this type of amnesia is Alzheimer’s disease, because of which the person loses their memories until they forget their closest family and even their own identity.

Organic memory disorders and disorders

Mnesic alterations – those related to memory – can also be classified depending on the factors that originate them. At a more basic level, one can distinguish organic causes, those caused by physical changes in the brain, and those caused by psychological factors.

Among the organic causes , the following examples stand out:

Korsakoff syndrome

This memory loss is caused by a lack of thiamine in our brain. Normally, the main cause of this deficit is due to chronic alcoholism, however, there are other diseases that can cause them, for example, gastric carcinoma. In these cases, the most affected memories are the recent ones, while the most remote ones are usually better preserved.

Alcoholic blackouts

Although it is also caused by alcohol, this type of amnesia is very different from the previous one. Alcoholic blackouts are memory gaps that remain after a too high intake of alcohol. In these cases, the only information that is lost is that which affects the moments when one is drunk.

Transient global amnesia

It is a disorder that comes on suddenly and lasts between 6 and 24 hours. During this time, the person does not lose self-awareness but is unable to remember anything. Fortunately, it is a very rare disorder that appears to be harmless and does not usually reproduce. After the episode is over, the person is completely back to normal.


It is the main memory disorder worldwide and is due to the process of progressive memory loss caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, as well as the simple passage of time, as is the case with senile dementia. . This condition is chronic and occurs progressively, at first it manifests itself with slight memory failures and, little by little, it becomes irreversible.


This disorder is not a disease in itself, but is usually one of the symptoms of an underlying disorder. Normally, it is caused by some disease at an organic level and its episodes, which usually last for hours, cause memory disorders and transitory alterations in consciousness.

Benign forgetfulness of age

It should not be considered senile dementia, although it could well be a first stage of this pathology. The fact is that once you reach a certain age, as with the rest of the body’s functions, memory begins to have failures and a certain inability to learn. This is not a disease, it is simply included in the normal aging of the person.

Memory disorders of psychological origin

On a psychological level , there are also diseases and conditions that can also cause partial or total memory loss and that have nothing to do with any organic change in the brain. Some of the most prominent examples are:

The ability to evoke is closely related to depressed mood. The moment a person recovers from their depression, they remember their past experiences perfectly. In the case of maniacs, their memory is also altered by affective causes, and they also recover when they overcome the crisis. Schizophrenics with this type of disorder do not show much interest in evoking their experiences, however, from time to time, they can relate memories with great precision. Neurotics and hysterics have difficulty remembering, especially in distressing experiences, as the unconscious desire not to remember prevails.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Memory disorders: types and examples , we recommend that you enter our category of Mental disorders .

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