Memory Consolidation: Psychobiology of Cognition

By Herbert Weingartner; Elizabeth S. Parker | Go to book overview

Consolidation and Forgetting Theory

I have shown that the evidence in support of consolidation theory obtained from the traditional human memory literature is not very strong. Straightforward studies of forgetting over relatively short retention intervals provide only a rare demonstration of reminiscence. Reminisence for high arousal pairs and for high arousal subjects have been reported, but not by later researchers who attempted to replicate the impressive findings. Other studies using experimental means to induce arousal in subjects have been moderately successful--but not as dramatic--in producing the reverse temporal trends that are critical for the argument. The effects of spaced repetitions have been interpreted in terms of consolidation, but other types of explanations have also been offered. Perhaps the strongest evidence now of a consolidation process comes from studies of retrograde amnesia. It is entirely possible, of course, that human studies will be devised that will permit the direct manipulation of consolidation processes with normal subjects in standard laboratory paradigms. At that time, I would assume that the role of consolidation in learning and forgetting will be taken more seriously than it is presently. In the meantime, I think we will find that cognitive theorists will continue to prefer cognitive explanations of learning and forgetting and to avoid explanations that view the human as a passive organism completely at the mercy of involuntary physiological processes.


REFERENCES

Ammons H. & Irion A. L. "A note on the Ballard reminiscence phenomenon". Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1954, 48, 184-186.

Ballard P. B. "Oblivescence and reminiscence". British Journal of Psychology Monograph Supplements, 1913, No. 2.

Batten D. E. "Recall of paired-associates as a function of arousal and recall interval". Perceptual and Motor Skills, 1967, 24, 1055-1058.

Berlyne D. E., Borsa D. M., Craw M. A., Gelman R. S., & Mandell E. E. "Effects of stimulus complexity and induced arousal on paired- associate learning". Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1965, 4, 291-299.

Berlyne D. E., Borsa D. M., Hamacher J. H., & Koenig I. D. V. "Paired-associate learning and the timing of arousal". Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1966, 72, 1-6.

Butter M. J. "Differential recall of paired associates as a function of arousal and concreteness- imaginary levels". Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1970, 84, 252-256.

Buxton C. E. "The status of research on reminiscence". Psychological Bulletin, 1943, 40, 313-340.

Corteen R. S. "Skin conductance changes and word recall". British Journal of Psychology, 1969, 60, 81-84.

DeCamp J. E. A study of retroactive inhibition. Psychological Monographs, 1915, 19(4, Whole No. 84).

Ekstrand B. R., Barrett T. R., West J. N., & Maier W. G. "The effect of sleep on human long- term memory". In R. R. Drucker-Colín, & J. E. McGaugh (Eds.), Neurobiology of sleep and memory. New York: Academic Press, 1977.

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