Brain & Memory

There are three types of memory, which are controlled by different brain areas.

Working Memory resides in the frontal part of the brain. Working memory is like having a "mental scratch pad," which lasts about 30 seconds, and allows you to pay attention and keep track of your surroundings and what you are doing. Working memory declines with normal aging. If the information you are attending to attracts your interest, it is passed on to your short-term memory, which can store the information for up to two weeks.

Short-Term Memory allows you to recall information learned within the last two weeks. It takes about two minutes to transfer information from working memory to short-term memory. Brain areas called the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus control short-term memory function, and are the first areas affected by Alzheimer's disease (AD). Examples of short-term memory include recalling part of a recent movie, radio or TV show, book, article or conversation, as well as remembering an appointment that you have later in the day.

Long-Term Memory can last a lifetime. Information retained for more than two weeks is transferred from short-term memory to long-term memory, which is located in the temporal lobes. Long-term memories, such as your children's names, your wedding date, the schools you attended, the jobs you held, etc., are not affected until the later stages of AD.