Memory systems analyses of mnemonic disorders in aging and age-related diseases


The National Academy of Sciences of the USA


The effects upon memory of normal aging and two age-related neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer disease (AD) and Parkinson disease, are analyzed in terms of memory systems, specific neural networks that mediate specific mnemonic processes. An occipital memory system mediating implicit visual-perceptual memory appears to be unaffected by aging or AD. A frontal system that may mediate implicit conceptual memory is affected by AD but not by normal aging. Another frontal system that mediates aspects of working and strategic memory is affected by Parkinson disease and, to a lesser extent, by aging. The aging effect appears to occur during all ages of the adult life-span. Finally, a medial-temporal system that mediates declarative memory is affected by the late onset of AD. Studies of intact and impaired memory in age-related diseases suggest that normal aging has markedly different effects upon different memory systems.

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