Declarative or Relational Memory

Declarative or Relational Memory

Remember name of our most beloved pet, the first day of work and the nerves we felt, the moment we fell in love for the first time ... none of these memories that accompany us in our lives and personal growth would be possible to evoke without a kind of memory very important that we will talk about today: The declarative memory.


  • 1 What is declarative or relational memory?
  • 2 Differences with implicit memory
  • 3 Types of declarative memory
  • 4 Brain bases of declarative memory
  • 5 Amnesia and declarative memory

What is declarative or relational memory?

The declarative memory, also called relational memory, is one of the two main types of long term memory, the memory we maintain over time. This type of memory requires an explicit expression of different data or events, that is, it is the type of memory that people use when consciously remember certain facts or information.

Differences with implicit memory

The other type of long-term main memory is implicit or procedural memory which, on the contrary, is the type of memory we use when we perform tasks that we have very assumed but that we do not do consciously, such as acts such as driving or brushing our teeth every morning.

A clear example of the separation between the two types of memory is found in the study of the patient H.M., whose hippocampus Y amygdala they were removed in 1953 to try to alleviate their seizures. From then on, the patient could continue using his short-term memory, as well as create new procedural memories, but could never re-form long-term declarative memories. That is, H.M. He could learn to ride a bike, but he couldn't remember the visit he had from a loved one last week.

When studying amnesic patients the distinction between declarative memory and procedural or implicit memory is evident since these conform to different brain processes. In the case of being able to keep the implicit memory, even if the declarative memory is very damaged

Types of declarative memory

The declarative memory is divided into two subtypes, which can be:

Episodic memory

It is the type of memory we use when we remember specific events that are part of our personal history. When we use the episodic memory We can evoke a family event, such as our brother's birthday or the name of our best childhood friend. This provides us with an autobiographical story that makes us who we are.

Semantic memory

This is the other type of declarative memory that we allows you to remember information and general knowledge over time. It is the cognitive processing that allows us to remember basic things about our knowledge of the world such as what is the capital of Italy or that dogs bark to communicate. Unlike episodic memory, the semantic memory It is more widespread in time and accompanies us throughout most of our lives, although it can present a slow decline in old age.

Cerebral bases of declarative memory

There are different areas of the brain that work together so that declarative memory is carried out. Although without proper functioning of the brain, in general, the declarative memory would not be correct, they are, however hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex the main regions so that this cognitive process can exist.

The hippocampus is especially important for retaining episodic memory. This structure located in the temporal lobe and that it is essential to retain our memories, it manages to record the information, as well as identify common qualities between events or events and link each new information to a specific space in our memory.

Amnesia and declarative memory

When there is loss of declarative memory, people cannot remember, especially, events stored in episodic memory. Semantic memory, in turn, can be lost over the years.

Some diseases like Alzheimer's they affect both declarative and procedural memory, although there is the ability to remember events that are very distant in time, while short-term memory or the most recent memories fail largely. Other problems such as viruses that affect the hippocampus can lead to a decline in our declarative memory.

In 1997 a study showed how stress can also significantly influence the creation of declarative memory. When it existed stress, the study participants showed a worse declarative memory than in those participants who were calm. This may explain why some people who have chronic stress like in the post traumatic stress disorderhave trouble getting memories explicit.

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