top of page
Travel Polaroids

On the importance of memories

Memory types

The most widely seen cognitive change associated with ageing is that of memory. Memory function can be broadly divided into four sections, episodic memory, semantic memory, procedural memory, and working memory.


The first two of these are most important with regard to ageing. Episodic memory is defined as “a form of memory in which information is stored with ‘mental tags', about where, when and how the information was picked up”.

An example of an episodic memory would be a memory of your first day at school, the important meeting you attended last week, or the lesson where you learnt that Paris is the capital of France. Episodic memory performance is thought to decline from middle age onwards. This is particularly true for recall in normal ageing and less so for recognition. It is also a characteristic of the memory loss seen in Alzheimer's disease


"For some patients, the (process of making a) life story book has remarkable consequences. Mary, an 80-year-old lady with moderate dementia, created a life story book [ ] which brought back many positive memories. In particular, creating and using a life story book triggered many happy memories about her husband who died early in their marriage. When the researchers showed Mary’s sister the life story book, she replied: “She (Mary) told all this to you (referring to quotations from life review sessions). Hard for me to believe…I thought she can't remember all this. This is something great”."

The loss of memory and narrative identity has a negative effect on well-being, using a [ ] personal narrative is a very promising way to improve the well-being of dementia patients.

From Heersmink, R. Preserving Narrative Identity for Dementia Patients: Embodiment, Active Environments, and Distributed Memory. Neuroethics 15, 8 (2022).

About memory: Text
bottom of page