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Clinical significance of knowledge about the structure, function, and impairments of working memory

Andrzej Brodziak, Adam Brewczyński, Grzegorz Bajor

Sosnowiec, Poland

Med Sci Monit 2013; 19:327-338

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.883900

Available online:

Published: 2013-05-03

A review of contemporary research on the working memory system (WMS) is important, both due to the need to focus the discussion on further necessary investigations on the structure and function of this key part of the human brain, as well as to share this knowledge with clinicians. In our introduction we try to clarify the actual terminology and provide an intuitively understandable model for 3 basic cognitive operations: perception, recognition, imagery, and manipulation of recalled mental images. We emphasize the importance of knowledge of the structure and function of the WMS for the possibility to demonstrate the links between genetic polymorphisms and the prevalence to some mental disorders. We also review current knowledge of working memory dysfunction in the most common diseases and specific clinical situations such as maturation and aging. Finally, we briefly discuss methods for assessment of WMS capacity. This article establishes a kind of compendium of knowledge for clinicians who are not familiar with the structure and operation of the WMS.

Keywords: Memory, Short-Term - physiology, Models, Neurological, Memory Disorders - physiopathology, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Brain - physiopathology, Nerve Net - physiopathology