What Is the Connection between Brain Damage and Memory?

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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2018
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The link between brain damage and memory is that injuries to the brain often lead to impairment of its functions. Some type of memory loss is common with brain damage, and the particular type may depend on the area that is affected. The severity and extent of the damage are usually connected with certain types of memory losses, including short-term, emotional, sensory and amnesia.

One of the common links between brain damage and memory is a loss of short-term memory. Mild to moderate concussions and brain swelling often result in the loss of the ability to recall the incidents that occurred right before the injury. Some individuals who suffer from concussions are able to recall the events leading up to the accident that caused the brain damage, but have trouble with their short-term memory in the months following the injury.

The connection between brain damage and memory is dependent on the area of the brain that sustains damage. Certain types of memory are affected by injuries to specific areas of the brain. Brain damage most often causes loss of long-term memory, which is defined as memories of experience or knowledge more than one year old.


Memory that is stored in the cortex of the brain is comprised of several different types of long-term information. Some of that information is considered to be visual memory. This includes the recollection of how certain objects look, such as a chair in a person's living room. The ability to recall how an object or location looks when a person is not present in its environment is sometimes lost when the brain's cortex sustains damage.

Associations between the meanings of certain objects are also stored in the cortex. Classifications of objects into categories are also stored here. One of the links between brain damage and memory is that when the cortex is injured, some of these associations may be lost while others are retained, depending on what area is affected.

Damage to the brain's temporal lobes is another connection between brain damage and memory. This injury often results in a type of amnesia, and renders a person unable to form new long-term memories. The individual still retains his previously stored long-term memories and information, but is unable to store and retain new information.

Injuries to other portions of the temporal lobes might result in the loss of emotional memory. This often means that an individual remembers the details of an event, but does not remember how he felt during the experience. In other words, his feelings and interpretations are removed from the memory of events as they actually occurred. This may result in the loss of certain reactions, such as caution or fear.



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