Multiple Sclerosis Symptoms
Memory problems are relatively common with multiple sclerosis. The figures are around 40% - 50% of people who experience some form of cognitive dysfunction will have problems with memory.
The range of different ways memory problems can show themselves with multiple sclerosis is as varied as any other symptom, however, the most common types of memory problems experienced are with remembering recent events and remembering to do things.
Some people have difficulty trying to remember things at will, and may need several attempts, usually retrieving fragmented but connected pieces, before accessing the data they wish to retrieve from memory.
Although memory is a complex series of neurological interactions, it can be broken into two broad areas: procedural memory, and semantic memory.
Procedural memory is the ability to remember how to do things such as ride a bike or play guitar. In multiple sclerosis, this almost always remains intact and unaffected, so although you may forget to do something, you will not forget how to do it.
Semantic memory is the memory for events, things, words and planning. It is this type of memory that tends to be affected by multiple sclerosis, although more typically, events which were distant in time from the onset of illness can be remembered with clarity, such as graduation from school, whereas recent events may be obscured.
Semantic memory needs several steps to occur before a memory can be stored or recalled, and interruption at any stage, such as may be caused by the inability to concentrate, can interfere with the ability to store or retrieve information.
Because semantic memory involves several steps, it depends on where the dysfunction begins to interfere as to the type of difficulty faced.
Some people have difficulty remembering things that they see but have no trouble remembering things that they have heard, while others can remember things that they see with clarity but are unable to remember what they have heard.
With others, particularly very advanced cases, memory problems may be so severe as to completely disrupt learning and recall.
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