How can a person completely lose their memory but still be able to speak a fluent language?


How can a person completely lose their memory but still be able to speak a fluent language?

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It really depends on what type of brain trauma we’re talking about. Memory is basically is basically your brain retracing it’s steps and attempting to reconstruct the situation you’re trying to recall. So if there’s memory loss, it’s not that the memory is “gone” it’s just that the brain doesn’t know how to get back to the set of sequences to “recall”. If someone is still able to speak, that just means that the pathways to recall language are unharmed. But, once again, this REALLY depends on the brain and what type of damage we’re talking about.

There are different kinds of memory.

Memories of your personal experience are episodic memories, whereas general knowledge (like language) are semantic memories. We aren’t 100% sure, the different kinds of memories likely use different parts of the brain. So one part can be damaged while the other part is perfectly fine.

Different parts of the brain. Language is not a matter of your brain remembering thousands of different words and how to use them together.

There are different kinds of memory. For example how to do physical tasks, recalling facts, speech, facial recognition, etc. Each type of memory depends on a specific network of brain areas that overlap incompletely with the other types or memory. Damage to specific brain areas, for example the medial temporal lobes in Alzheimers disease, may decrease function within one network, but not others. AD is a good example of what you’re asking about.

Your brain isn’t one unified structure. It’s lots of different structures that are coordinating and doing lots of different stuff. There is even a part of the brain responsible for making you believe that your internal personality is in charge and in control of all of this stuff (in the frontal cortex, except it’s not really in charge).

Our ability to speak is associated with two areas of the brain, Broca’s area (talking to others) and Wernicke’s area (understanding when someone is talking to you).

Our ability to access specific memories is associated with the hippocampus and the temporal lobe.

Brain damage (everything from swelling to more permanent damage like cell death due to stroke or internal bleeding) to the temporal lobe can cause memory loss but still leave those two areas related to speech completely functional.