Procedural Memory

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Procedural memory can be thought of as the memory of how to do things. In other words, it is the memory for skilled behaviors independent of any conscious understanding, as for example, riding a bicycle. Individuals can suffer severe deficits in declarative memory but have intact procedural memory. One case study describes a pianist who learned a new piece to accompany a singer at a concert but had no recollection the following morning of having performed the composition. He could remember how to play the music but could not remember having done so. The category of procedural memory also includes learned emotional responses, such as fear of thunder, and the classic example of Pavlov’s dog, which learned to salivate at the sound of a bell after the bell had previously been associated with food. The primary areas of the brain involved in procedural memory are regions of sensorimotor cortex, the basal nuclei, and the cerebellum.