Long-Term Memory Problems in Children and Adolescents: Assessment, Intervention, and Effective Instruction

By Milton J. Dehn | Go to book overview

1 CHAPTER
Introduction and Overview

Memory is an unique psychological construct and cognitive function in that almost everyone is interested in or concerned about his or her memory at some point in life. Nearly every person, even a 4-year-old child, has a concept of memory and an awareness of how his or her memory functions. Almost everyone knows that short-term memory is limited in capacity and duration, that long-term memory has an immense capacity, and that memories can last for a lifetime. Even a young child knows that people quickly forget most information and that there are strategies that help memories endure. Nearly everyone also understands that memory is necessary for learning to occur and that personal memories define each individual. Yet, most children have misconceptions about memory and how it functions, misconceptions that can be detrimental to learning. For example, many children erroneously believe that the intention to remember something will increase the probability of later retrieval or that delayed recall will be just as strong as immediate recall. Similarly, there are disagreements about memory structure and functions among researchers and practitioners who are concerned with human memory. For example, there has been an ongoing dispute about how memories become solidified through the process of consolidation. Most of the discord arises from the fact that memory is extremely complex, consisting of several systems, with each system serving different purposes and incorporating somewhat different cognitive processes (Tulving, 1985). Indeed, memory is not a single homogenous entity but a composition of many distinct interacting brain systems (Emilien, Durlach, Antoniadis, Van Der Linden, & Maloteaux, 2004). It is only recently that neuroscientists and other researchers have begun to unravel the incredibly sophisticated mental function known as memory.

Driven by advances in neuroscience and brain imaging, the past 20 years has seen a resurgence of research on the memory functions of children and adolescents. Although many of the contemporary investigations have focused on working memory (see Dehn, 2008), a sizable portion concern long-term memory systems and processes and how they relate to academic learning. The subjects of these studies are no longer limited to children with severe acquired brain injuries. A variety of atrisk populations (see Chapter 4), as well as normal learners, have been studied. A few investigations have reported on low incidence disorders, such as developmental amnesia, while numerous studies have focused on children with more common

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