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Welcome to CogniFit! Welcome to CogniFit Research!

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  • Get access to a complete battery of cognitive tests to assess memory

  • Identify and assess the presence of alterations or deficits

  • Stimulate and improve your long-term memory and other cognitive functions

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What is long term memory?

Long-term memory could be defined as the brain mechanism that makes it possible to code and retain an almost unlimited amount of information over a long period of time. The memories stored in long-term memory can last for up to a few years.

Long-term memory is a key element to successfully completing daily activities independently. This type of memory refers to the brain's ability to store experiences, events, concepts, or skills, and recall them later. Long-term memory is a complex skill that has many different facets, and uses different parts of the brain. This is why is it sensitive to brain damage. Luckily, brain training and practice can help improve this key cognitive function.

Program leader in brain training, CogniFit makes it possible to activate and strengthen memory and other important cognitive abilities. Our brain games were designed to stimulate specific neural activation patterns, and the repetition of these patterns can help strengthen and improve the neural connections used in memory. This can help create new synapses able to reorganize and/or recover damaged or weakened cognitive functions.

Types of long-term memory

When talking about memory, you can break it down into terms of time stored in the memory systems, differentiating between sensory memory, short-term memory, working memory, and long-term memory:

  • Declarative Memory: The information stored in our memory systems that can be explained and recalled voluntarily and consciously. The brain systems related to this memory system are the medial temporal lobe, the diencephalon, and the neocortex, and is divided into two parts.
  • Semantic emory: Refers to the set of information that we have about the world around us. This information is unrelated to how or when it was learned and includes vocabulary, academic concepts, or anything that we know about a certain subject. For example, you know that an apple is a fruit that you can eat, that there are different colored apples, and that it comes from the apple tree, but you probably don't remember when you learned this information
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  • Episodic Memory: Includes the concrete experiences that we have lived and has a very close relationship to how and when information is learned. For example, remembering what you ate for dinner last night, where you parked your car, when you visited a certain city for the first time, who you went to a certain party with, or when you met that person.
  • Non-Declarative Memory or Implicit Memory: This memory is stored in your memory systems, but can't be talked about. It is usually acquired or incorporated through implicit learning (you may not be conscious that you're learning it). This type of memory is quite resistant to brain damage, which usually leaves it less affected than other memory systems. This type of memory uses different parts of the brain, like the neocortex, the amygdala, the cerebellum, and the basal ganglia. It also includes other subdivisions.
  • Procedural Memory: Made up of information of muscular movements that we have learned to automatize through practice, like habits and other skills. For example, riding a bike, throwing a ball, or moving a computer mouse.
  • Priming: Refers to the ease with which we activate and remember a certain concept in our minds. For example, you would probably remember the word "sedan" quicker if you were talking about "cars", "trucks" or "convertibles".
  • Classic Conditioning: Relates to the link between a conditioned stimulus and a response that has previously been associated with an unconditioned stimulus. For example, if you hear a bell chiming (conditioned stimulus) before blowing air in your eye (unconditioned stimulus), hearing the bell chime would be enough to cause you to blink (conditioned response). This relationship forms part of non-declarative or implicit memory

Evaluating Memory

A good memory is the is essential in order to carry our daily activities automatically and without problems. This is why is it is important to know and understand how well your memory is working. CogniFit offers a series of tests to measure memory (like phonological short-term memory, contextual memory, short-term memory, nonverbal memory, visual short-term memory, working memory , and recognition), based on the Continuous Performance Test (CPT), the direct and indirect digits test from the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS), the NEPSY (by Korkman, Kirk, and Kemp), the Test of Variables of Attention (TOVA), the Test of Memory Malingering (TOMM), the Tower of London test (TOL), and Hooper Visual Organization Task (VOT). These tests, aside from measuring memory, also assess response time, processing speed, naming, visual perception, cognitive updating, planning, visual scanning, and spatial perception.

  • Sequencing Test WOM-ASM: A series of shapes with numbers in them will appear on the screen. The user will have to memorize the series of numbers in order to later recite it. This sequence will start as only two numbers but will increment as the user progresses until they make a mistake. The sequence will be repeated after each presentation.
  • Inquiry Test REST-COM: Objects on the screen will appear for a short period of time. The user will later have to choose the words that correspond to the images presented as quickly as possible.
  • Identification Test COM-NAM:Objects will be presented either with images or sounds. The user will have to remember how (image or sound) the object was last presented, or if it was not previously presented at all.
  • Concentration Test VISMEM-PLAN: Stimuli will appear randomly on the screen. The stimuli will light up, along with a sound, in a specific order. The user must pay attention to the order in which the stimuli are activated in order to later repeat the order correctly when it is their turn.
  • Recognition Test WOM-REST: Three objects will appear on the screen. The user must first remember the order that the objects were presented as quickly as possible. Then, four series of three objects will appear, and the user will have to detect the series that is the same as the one presented previously.
  • Test de Recuperación VISMEM: Aparecerán imágenes en la pantalla durante aproximadamente cinco o seis segundos. Durante ese tiempo, hay que intentar recordar la mayor cantidad de objetos que aparezcan en la imagen. Agotado ese tiempo, la imagen desaparece y se ofrecen diferentes opciones, entre las que el usuario debe detectar la correcta.
  • Recovery Test VISMEM: Images will appear on the screen for five or six seconds. During this time, the user will have to remember as many objects as possible that appear in the image. When the time runs out, different options will appear and the user will have to choose the correct one.

Examples of long-term memory

  • The majority of concepts that we learn in academic environments are stored in our semantic memory. Because of this, when you study or remember the geography of your country, anatomy, chemistry, math, or any other subject, you are using your long-term memory.
  • If you work in a restaurant and have to remember the food that each customer ordered, you will be using episodic memory. The same thing happens when you remember your usual customers, for example.
  • When learning to ride a bike for the first time, it's normal to fall down until you get the hang of it. This is because the muscles used in riding a bike haven't learned how to move appropriately. However, once you've mastered bike riding, your procedural memory will take over and automatically control the motor skills needed. This makes us able to ride a bike normally, without falling over. A similar process happens when learning to drive a car.
  • In order to remember where you left your car in a parking lot, where your phone charger is, what the capital of your country is, or any other type of information that you have to remember from day to day, you will use your long-term memory.

Pathologies and disorders associated with problems with long-term memory.

Forgetfulness is not a memory problem. In fact, our memory systems actually remove little-used or unnecessary information in order to make room for more important memories and is especially common as we age. However, pathological forgetfulness does exist and would be characterized by an inability to incorporate new memories (anterograde amnesia) and/or an inability to remember past memories (retrograde amnesia). There is also hypermnesia, or the involuntary access to vivid and detailed memories, which would be the case with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Also, memories can be altered or changed in some disorders, like Korsakoff Syndrome, where the person involuntarily invents memories that they are not able to remember properly.

The most well-known memory problem is Alzheimer's Disease (which affects mainly episodic memory), but memory problems are also present in other types of dementia, as is the case with semantic dementia (where the memory system affected is semantic memory), or in Parkinson's Disease (where procedural memory is affected). These cases usually show both retrograde and anterograde amnesias. In the case of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and brain damage from stroke, anteograde amnesia is also common (given that it is more common than retrograde amnesia). In all of these cases, it is not uncommon for the person to create stories to complete missing information (confabulations). Consuming certain drugs or substances can also cause transitory or permanent memory loss.

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