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Course: MCAT > Unit 4

Lesson 1: Foundations of behavior passages

Differential memory loss and Alzheimer's Disease


Advances in medicine and science have greatly increased the average human lifespan, but with that increase comes new, difficult problems. One of those problems is dementia, or the loss of cognitive functioning and behavioral abilities. Dementia is incredibly difficult for elderly patients, as it has the ability to interfere with every aspect of a person’s daily life and functioning. Many cases of dementia are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, which is an irreversible, progressive brain disease that results in memory loss and difficulty with other executive functions.
Alzheimer’s disease begins with difficulty learning and remembering new or recent experiences (like names, phone numbers, or new surroundings) but long-term memory is unaffected – patients are still able to remember their personal history. As the disease progresses, patients forget most memories of their life, have trouble coming up with words to sustain a conversation, have difficulty remembering the name of their caregiver, and experience major personality and behavioral changes. Finally, patients lose the ability to perform basic functions – they are unable to dress themselves, eat independently, or use the restroom properly.
A doctor develops a memory test for Alzheimer’s that examines working memory, procedural memory, and episodic memory. He administers the test to three patients who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. His patient's scores are outlined in Table 1. Scores that are closer to 100 indicate higher memory function, while scores that are closer to 0 indicate lower memory function.
Table 1
PatientShort TermProceduralEpisodic
Which of the following scenarios would test the patient's episodic memory?
Choose 1 answer: