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Trends Cogn Sci. 2005 Aug;9(8):374-80.

Doubts about double dissociations between short- and long-term memory.

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Center for Neuroscience, University of California at Davis, CA 95616, USA.


Historically, psychologists and neuroscientists have distinguished between processes supporting memory for events across retention delays of several seconds (short-term memory, STM), and those supporting memory for events across longer retention delays of minutes or more (long-term memory, LTM). Dissociations reported in some neuropsychological studies have contributed to a popular view that there must be neurally distinct memory stores that differentially support STM and LTM. In this article, we review evidence from recent studies regarding dissociations between STM and LTM. We suggest that the evidence reveals problems with claims of selective STM or LTM impairments, which in turn questions whether theories of memory need to propose neurally distinct stores for short- and long-term retention. We consider alternative ways to explain the neural mechanisms of memory across different retention intervals.

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