Implicit Memory and Metacognition

By Lynne M. Reder | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Metacognitive Aspects of Implicit/Explicit Memory

Louis Narens University of California, Irvine

Aurora Graf University of Washington

Thomas O. Nelson University of Maryland at College Park

A widely held belief in the area of implicit/explicit memory research is that implicit memory is revealed when previous experiences facilitate performance on a task that does not require conscious or intentional or deliberate remembrance of those experiences, whereas explicit memory is revealed when performance on a task requires conscious, intentional, or deliberate remembrance of previous experiences (cf. Schacter, 1987). Thus formulated, a key distinction between implicit and explicit memory tasks hinges on whatever is meant by the conscious, intentional, or deliberate remembrance.

Wilson ( 1994) wrote, "Researchers in the tradition of metamemory and metacognition (e.g., Flavell, 1979; Nelson & Narens, 1990) were among the first to draw attention to the necessity of understanding the way in which meta-beliefs monitor and control nonconscious processing." Accordingly, it might be fruitful to inquire about the applicability of metacognition to the domain of implicit/explicit memory. For instance, Do the metacognitive components that we and others have been investigating play some useful role in explaining the distinction between implicit and explicit memory? We present a case here that they do. Because these components use only a portion of the properties of consciousness and awareness, it is natural to ask, Are these metacognitive components sufficient for explicating the implicit/explicit distinction? To the extent that they are not, What other aspects of consciousness or awareness are needed? For example, these metacognitive components do not utilize qualia -- a concept of considerable importance in the philosophical analysis

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