The first book devoted to memory consolidation was prepared by James McGaugh and Michael Herz. In the preface to that volume, which appeared in 1972, McGaugh and Herz were explicit about the fact that the book dealt with animal research. At that time, major advances in understanding consolidation processes were based on the study of psychobiological processes of learning and memory in lower animals. It was our belief that this concept is valuable in considering memory phenomena in humans, the area from which the concept originated around the turn of the century.
This volume was organized for students of human memory and related cognitive processes. The issues deal not only with memory in unimpaired individuals, but also with impaired patients and with consolidation in lower animals. The chapters in this volume demonstrate that consolidation is a flourishing and controversial concept in memory research today. More than ten years after the seminal book of McGaugh and Herz, questions about consolidation are re-examined in light of current models of human memory, its pathology, and its modulation by drugs.
The editing of this book has gone through several stages. We thought it might be useful to share some of that history. Five years ago, the editors ( Weingartner and Parker) began to work together at the NIMH. As two psychologists with strong interests in the altered states of human memory, we found ourselves working in a neurobiological research milieu. Our conversations with one another covered a broad range of topics, but none so persistently recurred as memory consolidation, and questions about the notable absence of this concept from contemporary systems of information processing, memory and learning.
HW found the concept useful in trying to define the memory-learning changes evident in disorders of mood, in relation to the effects of cholinergic drug