This is the 2007 version. Click here for the 2017 chapter 06 table of contents.

Declarative vs. Procedural Memory

Declarative memory is is memory for repeatedly encountered facts and data such as who is president, what is the square root of 25, and where you were born. Procedural memory, by contrast, is specifically memory for sequences of events, processes, and routines. Deciding which letter of the alphabet has three vertical strokes (M) involves declarative memory. Remembering how to tie your shoes, ride a bike, or shoot a layup on a basketball court requires procedural memory.

What are two types of memory for general knowledge? What is evidence they are distinct systems?

Evidence for a basic distinction between declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge comes from the effects of brain damage and electric shock. In the 21st Century ECS (electroconvulsive shock) procedures are refined to the point where "shock treatments" do not produce measurable effects on memory, largely because of drugs that are administered before treatment and have a protective effect on brain tissue. However, in earlier decades, the treatment was cruder, and memory loss after ECS was common. Patients receiving electroconvulsive shock treatments (ECS) often showed amnesia for factual information presented to them in the preceding days. They showed no similar loss of memory for procedural skills that they practiced before the shock.

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