The Procedural Memory, what does it consist of

Sherman Hoover
The Procedural Memory, what does it consist of

Every morning we get up and do the same routine. We go to the bathroom, make breakfast, get dressed and go to study, to work or anywhere else. At work we know what we have to do. Nobody forgets to drive, nor do we forget how to do something from one moment to the next. And that is why procedural memory is so important.

This type of memory as well as the influence of Alzheimer's and perinatal asphyxia on procedural skills will be addressed throughout the article. Procedural memory is the most consolidated and the one that takes the longest to deteriorate, which is why studies with Alzheimer's patients are so abundant. So, let's start this journey through a memory that allows us, something as simple, as knowing how to turn on the computer to read this article.


  • What is procedural memory?
  • Procedural memory and possible complications
    • Perinatal asphyxia
    • Alzheimer's
  • Bibliography

What is procedural memory?

Procedural memory is one that stores information related to procedures and / or strategies that allow us to interact with the environment. It is an execution system in which the motor skills that we have learned are found. For example, writing, driving, cycling, showering, buttoning, etc..

As Arreguín-Gonzánez (2013) assures, "procedural memory is a long-term memory where no conscious effort is made and learning is acquired gradually through the execution of tasks and respective feedback, it is expressed through behaviors unconscious ".

They are processes that once learned are not usually forgotten. They remain in our memory. Procedural memory is activated automatically and unconsciously and cognitive strategies are also involved. Its verbalization or transformation into images is almost impossible. As stated by Rains (2004), "its effects are manifested more in behavior than in consciousness".

As Eichenbaum (2003) postulates, "the habits and skills that our motor system has acquired and incorporated into its own circuits are the product of procedural memory". 

Procedural memory and possible complications

Procedural memory is one of the most consolidated. Despite this, a large number of investigations have been carried out to find out to what extent it can be affected by neurological disorders or diseases.

This article will highlight how perinatal asphyxia and Alzheimer's disease affect memory and procedural tasks. At the same time the affected areas will be exposed.

Perinatal asphyxia

Research has been conducted to find out if perinatal asphyxia could affect procedural learning and memory. Procedural learning has been associated with the fronto-strial circuits and the cerebellum, with the prefrontal cortex being the nucleus of integration of the information of both structures (Pascual Leone and García-Moncó, 1999).

On the other hand, the caudate nucleus is considered a fundamental structure in the acquisition of procedural capacities, especially in the most initial stages of procedural learning (Saint-Cyr, Taylor, Trépanier and Lang, 1992).

In the study by Cristiña Mañeru's team (2002), no significant differences were found in procedural learning in subjects with perinatal asphyxia. However, the subjects who suffered suffocation did need more time to perform different tasks. The authors point out that the result "is consistent with the absence of atrophy in the caudate nucleus (Mañeru et als, 2002)". That is, the subjects with atrophy of the caudate nucleus had more difficulties to perform the tasks than the subjects who had it intact..


With regard to Alzheimer's disease, highlight an important fact in the rehabilitation and / or training of people with this disease. It has been discovered that "procedural skills could be considered an essential pathway in neuropsychological rehabilitation in Alzheimer's dementia (Arroyo-Anlló, Chamorro-Sánchez, Díaz-Marta and Gil, 2013)".

Since procedural memory is the most resistant to mental deterioration compared to declarative memory, the focus has been placed on it so that it can be trained in these types of patients.

As the Arroyo-Alló (2007) team points out, "it would be of greater help if among the protocols for evaluating memory in Alzheimer's disease, procedural learning tasks could be included, in order to help program more rehabilitation activities. effective for autonomy in the daily activities of the patient ".

Caudate nucleus atrophy has also been observed in Alzheimer's. Kassubek's team (2001) investigated the functional brain changes that occur before and after a task called "mirror reading." The authors stated that this procedural task depended "partially on the frontal cortical and parieto-occipital regions." The inability to perform perceptual-cognitive tasks could be due to the deterioration of these areas from the early stages of the disease.

The injured areas would be the associative cortex and the hippocampus. The gray ganglia at the base and the subcortical areas would show relative preservation. Thus, the hypothesis is that motor and perceptual-motor skills depend on subcortical regions and cognitive-perceptual skills depend less on these subcortical areas..


  • Arreguín-González, I. (2013). Synapse and procedural memory. Arch Neuroscience, 18, (3), 148-153.
  • Arroyo-Anlló, Eva., Chamorro-Sánchez, J., Díaz-Marta, J. and Gil, R. (2013). Procedural memory in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Medical Journal of the Mexican Social Security Institute, 51, (4): 403-413.
  • Kassubek J, Schmidtke K, Kimmig H, et al. (2001). Changes in cortical activation during mirror reading before and after training: an fMRI study of procedural learning. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 10 (3): 207-217.
  • Mañeru, C., Junqué, C., Botet, F., Tallada, M ,. Segarra, D. and Narberhaus, A. (2002). Declarative and procedural memory in adolescents with a history of perinatal asphyxia. Psicothema, 14 (2): 464-468.
  • van Halteren-van Tilborg IA, Scherder EJ, Hulstijn W. (2007) Motor-skill learning in Alzheimer's disease: a review with an eye to the clinical practice. Neuropsychol Rev 17 (3): 203-212.

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