Information Processing in Animals: Memory Mechanisms

Information Processing in Animals: Memory Mechanisms

Information Processing in Animals: Memory Mechanisms

Information Processing in Animals: Memory Mechanisms

Excerpt

During the past fifty years, dramatic changes have occurred in the use of laboratory animals to study learning and memory. Yet the basic reasons for this research, diverse as they are, have not changed. At one extreme is the need for relatively direct application of findings with animal models to medical or educational problems of humans; at the other extreme, the quest for understanding animal behavior for its own sake. It is probably fair to say that no chapters in this book represent either of these extremes, although in each case the author's purposes can be said to be like those of some scientists working in this area fifty years ago. In contrast to this continuity of purpose, the approach that scientists now take in this area of study is really quite different from that of most or all scientists in the 1930s.

It is of course frequently possible to find current ideas similar to those expressed long ago. But today the conceptual frameworks that dictate what specific experiments are conducted and exactly how they are performed differ in important ways from those seen fifty or even twenty-five years ago. To an observer unfamiliar with this area for the past twenty years or so, the theoretical concepts that direct study in this area would seem distinctly different and the underlying technology decidedly improved. This is so for the experimental paradigms applied, the responses measured, the tests used to infer learning and retention, and the inferences drawn from the consequences of the experimental treatments. One theme representing these differences is the greater concentration on the consequences of the learning process relative to its dynamics--consequences such as what is learned, the structure of what is learned, and the determinants of what is remembered afterward. These consequences are frequently discussed under the heading "memory processes." We felt that a book describing the state of . . .

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