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Rev Neurol. 2005 Oct 16-31;41(8):475-84.

[Memory and the executive functions].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Neuropsicología y Neuropsiquiatría, Clínica Ubarmin, Egüés, Navarra, Spain.



The terms 'executive functioning' or 'executive control' refer to a set of mechanisms involved in the improvement of cognitive processes to guide them towards the resolution of complex problems. Both the frontal lobes, acting as structure, and the executive processes, acting as function, work with memory contents, operating with information placed in the diencephalic structures and in the medial temporal lobe. Generally, we can state that many works find an association between frontal damage and specific memory shortages like working memory deficit, metamemory problems, source amnesia, or difficulties in the prospective memory.


This paper is a critical review of the working memory concept and proposes a new term: the attentional operative system that works with memory contents. Concerning the metamemory, the frontal lobes are essential for monitoring processes in general and for 'the feeling of knowing' kind of judgements in particular.


Patients suffering prefrontal damage show serious problems to remember the information source. Thus, the information is rightly remembered but the spatiotemporal context where that information was learned has been forgotten. Finally, the prospective memory deals with remembering to make something in a particular moment in the future and performing the plan previously drawn up.

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