What Is Procedural Memory?

What Is Procedural Memory?

Procedural Memory

Procedural memory is also called motor skills; it is that aspect of your memory that retains the “how-to-do” skills and helps you controls how to perform learnt tasks effortlessly, such as talking, walking, riding a bike and lots more.

From the name procedural memory, it can be easily seen that we are referring to that part of your memory that stores certain steps and procedures to performing a task. Task or activities performed from the procedural memory is done easily without any conscious effort or thoughts.Many times people refer procedural memory as automatic or unconscious memory.

In actual fact, procedural memory is a subsection of another type of memory called implicit memory. Unlike explicit or declarative memory that involves storage of events and facts explicitly that are recalled consciously or declared when needed, implicit memory on the other hand uses experiences of the past to unconscious recall things and how to perform tasks and activities.

Common Procedural Memory Examples

Most people have superior ability of using procedural memories than others. Good examples are the athletes, musicians, those with the skills to speak multiple languages and so on. Procedural memory when engaged in multiple language speaking permits the speaker to flow and speak freely without much thought about proper syntax and grammar.

Some Other Tasks Performed Using Procedural Memory

  • Skiing
  • Playing piano
  • Ice skating
  • Swimming
  • Playing basketball
  • Driving a car
  • Climbing stairs
  • Riding a bike

Procedural Memory Vs Declarative Memory

With procedural memory one can remember how to carry out a task that he or she has not done in years effortlessly, such as riding a bike but with declarative memory one will need to recall stored events such as the route or way to a close-by park and back home.

Many people find it hard to verbalize information stored in procedural memory while Information stored in declarative memory can be easily describes or verbalized. For example it is easier to give someone a direction on how to get to a store- which involves the use of declarative memory than to direct a person on how to perform a driving task- which involves the use of procedural memory.

Some Other Declarative Memory Examples
  • ‍Remembering or recalling your office contacts like phone number or address
  • ‍Recalling your home address
  • Remembering that Austin is the capital of Texas

Procedural Memory and the Brain

Procedural memories are built by the reinforcement of synapse repeatedly. This process can go from simple to complex stages such as simple connection between two fingertip nerve cells to more complex cases that take longer time to form such as driving.

The part of the brain that are used to records or stores procedural memories at the early stage of learning motor-skills are the cerebellum, prefrontal cortex, and the parietal cortex. The cerebellum is the most important because it is used to coordinate all movement skills that involves timed movement and practiced motions.

Although humans are born with all the needed neurons for life’s activities, these neurons still have to undergo certain programming to function as expected. Daily life experience helps in programming the neurons to perform the task perfectly and accordingly, such as seeing, hearing, walking and talking.

Procedural Memory Psychology

Procedural memory according to researchers forms an individual’s character or personality. This statement is based on the fact that certain emotional responses or behaviors that an individual learns early in life makes such person to give off automatic responses whenever they confronts such situations again. An individual will have to work hard, use conscious effort to change such auto responses. This is why reinforced habits are difficult to change, be it good or bad habits!A lot of conscious steps have to be taken to replace negative behaviors with positives once and vice versa.

Any damage or injury to the basal ganglia and cerebellum parts of the brain can lead to procedural learning issues and challenges.

Researchers have studies people with brain injuries and have found out that the formation of declarative and procedural memories takes place in different parts of the brain and are controlled differently.This means that procedural memory and declarative memory functions independently. Most brain injuries are correctable by neuroplasticity.

The report of Alzheimer patients studied in 1997 supports the independent memory function clams. Patients were observed to have better procedural memory functions than the declarative memory function.This is because procedural memory functions do not solely depend on the affected part of the brain, which are the cerebellum and ganglia parts.  Alzheimer patients were observed to have a declining cognitive function, episodic and declarative memory deteriorations more than procedural memory loss. They can use procedural memory for effortless activities like walking talking and so on.

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