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Changes in Thinking

Memory and Learning

HD doesn’t take away memories, it just makes them harder to remember. It’s like having a document stored in your computer, but no good way to find it again.  

People with HD have a harder time remembering how to do activities that have multiple steps. Activities like tying a shoe or riding a bike requires implicit memories of a sequence of events. When remembering the order of actions for tying a shoelace is hard, the activity becomes difficult. 

Researchers are beginning to understand the relationship between memories and a person’s identity. Lacking shared memories with people they know can weaken the richness of a relationship. Without the ability to recall past experiences, it also becomes harder to make decisions about the future.   

Memory is also involved in learning. People with HD can have trouble organizing new thoughts and focusing. When information isn’t stored neatly in the brain, it becomes hard to find and use later on.  

Some types of memories are more affected by HD than others. Remembering a name is not as hard as remembering how to do something. Long-term memories are easier to recall than short-term memories. Because people with HD still have their memories stored in their brain (as opposed to people with Alzheimer’s) they can recognize a memory with a prompt.  

Additional factors that can impact a person's ability to remember and learn include depression, anxiety, living in a stressful environment, and having trouble with impulsivity. 

See tips on how to compensate for trouble with remembering and learning.