Handbook of Learning and Cognitive Processes: Attention and Memory - Vol. 4

Handbook of Learning and Cognitive Processes: Attention and Memory - Vol. 4

Handbook of Learning and Cognitive Processes: Attention and Memory - Vol. 4

Handbook of Learning and Cognitive Processes: Attention and Memory - Vol. 4

Excerpt

The extensive and even dramatic changes in the field of research on attention and relatively short-term memory can be pointed up by noting that, whereas counterparts of the first three volumes of this Handbook (dealing with basic issues, behavior theory, and human learning and motivation) could have been prepared in quite similar form ten or fifteen years ago, the same is far from true for the present volume.This comment holds not only for the quantity of research but for every qualitative aspect—the range of subjects and tasks, the time scale of retention processes examined, the concepts and methods.

First of all, prior to the early 1960s, research on memory was almost exclusively confined to studies of adult human subjects in a few standard situations. The term "memory" was rarely used in connection with work on animals except in relation to physiological and biochemical studies aimed at the neurophysiological basis of memory in the brain.Only gradually has it become appreciated that, in the nature of things, progress toward uncovering the mechanisms and processes underlying memory at the biochemical and physiological levels must be severely limited until a body of theory and methods is available dealing with the behavioral manifestations of memory in animals. Thus it is timely to begin the present volume with the review by Spear of a range of work and ideas that can now be identified as the beginning of a genuinely psychobiological approach to memory in both animals and man.

The virtual limitation of research on memory to adult human subjects for many decades entailed a number of concomitant limitations going much beyond the restricted generality of findings. Because the population of adults studied, largely college students, was so homogeneous with respect to cultural and educational background, it was difficult to arrive at an appreciation of the major role of learned performance strategies in . . .

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