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When Alcoholism Affects Memory Functions: MRI of the Brain.


The development of modern imaging techniques makes it possible to examine directly the relationship between brain abnormalities and memory impairment. Alcoholic amnesics may perform normally on certain tests (priming tasks) that require implicit (unconscious) memory, even though they may not be able consciously to recall the memory. Researchers have therefore postulated the existence of multiple memory mechanisms. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) observations suggest that independent memory mechanisms are not necessary to explain the dissociation between explicit and implicit memory. Alcoholic amnesics appear to suffer from damage to structures in two areas of the brain, affecting two separate processing components that are both required in most priming tasks: a stimulus processing component and a memory processing component.

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