Procedural Memory, what is it?

Procedural Memory, what is it?

Every morning we get up and perform the same routine. We go to the bathroom, we make breakfast, we get dressed and go to study, to work or to any other place. 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 another. And that is why, the procedural memory It is so important.

Throughout the article this type of memory will be addressed as well as the influence of Alzheimer's and perinatal asphyxiation on procedural skills. Procedural memory is the most consolidated and the one that takes the longest to deteriorate, that's 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.


  • 1 What is procedural memory?
  • 2 Procedural memory and possible complications
  • 3 Blibliography

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 we have learned are found. For example, writing, driving, cycling, showering, buttoning, etc.

As Arreguín-Gonzánez (2013) says, "procedural memory is a long term memory where conscious effort is not made and learning is acquired gradually through the execution of tasks and respective feedback, it is expressed through unconscious behaviors. "

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

As Eichenbaum (2003) postulates, "the habits and skills that ourmotor system has acquired and incorporated its owncircuits 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 alterations 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 carried out to know if perinatal asphyxia could affect learning and procedural memory. Procedural learning has been associated with fronto-strial circuits and cerebellum, the prefrontal cortex being the nucleus of information integration 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 of the team of Cristiña Mañeru (2002) they were not found significant differences in the procedural learning of subjects with perinatal asphyxiation. However, subjects who suffered from 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 difficulty performing the tasks than the subjects who had it intact.


With respect to the disease of Alzheimer's, 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 type 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 this type of patients.

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

Alzheimer's disease has also seen atrophy of the caudate nucleus. 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 of the frontal cortical and parietooccipital 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 nodes of the base and subcortical areas would show relative preservation. Thus, the hypothesis is that motor and perceptual motor skills depend on subcortical regions and perceptual-cognitive 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 asphyxiation.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.