Varieties of Memory and Consciousness: Essays in Honour of Endel Tulving

By Henry L. Roediger III; Fergus I. M. Craik et al. | Go to book overview

10
The Boundaries of Episodic Remembering: Comments on the Second Section

Marcel Kinsbourne Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center Harvard Medical School


THE DISTINCTIVE STATUS OF EPISODIC REMEMBERING

Endel Tulving has placed an indelible imprint on memory research. He has raised issues that no one had thought were issues, and challenged explicit or implicit assumptions thought to be too obvious to test. Given the generally nonprogressive nature of behavioral science ( Tulving, 1983)), it is not immediately obvious which of a near infinity of possible questions is the most worth asking. Tulving has a flair for choosing topics for research that redirect the attention of memory investigators everywhere.

Tulving's latest enterprise in scientific navigation is a change in course on the unity of the construct of memory itself. Although he listed in his book ( 1983) numerous previously proposed dichotomies in the memory domain, memory investigators had ignored these proposals, and studied memory in the same general way, regardless of what was being remembered, and how. This was so, despite the fact that neuropsychologists, in their then separate domain, had long been persuaded (through phenomena of double dissociation) that there are separable memory mechanisms in the brain. Tulving's force of conviction and strength of personality has compelled cognitive psychologists to take account of neuropsychological findings, and brought neuropsychologists closer to the cognitive mainstream. His initiative is already visibly connecting these naturally very compatible fields.

The key question that directs effort in current neuropsychological memory research is the one posed by Tulving ( 1983): How many memory systems are there? As is always the case with Professor Tulving's influential thought, there is

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