because they learn more slowly. But, what they learn more slowly need not imply slower consolidation at the synaptic level. In the case of infants, whether animals or humans, it has become clear that they are a great deal more astute when learning under circumstances that might be said generally to be "consistent with their ecological niche," much more "mature" in their learning and memory capacity than was previously estimated from tests originally designed for adults ( Rovee-Collier & Lipsitt, 1981; Spear, 1984; Spear & Campbell, 1979). Similarly, it seems likely that many of the ontogenetic differences observed in learning and memory among animals may be traced to differential stimulus selection rather than different rates of storing individual elements into memory ( Spear, 1979). It is especially well established that when children are provided particular organizational techniques and led to use them, their recall becomes more adultlike ( Ornstein, 1978). A final example is in terms of results with retention measures that tap what has been termed "automatic processing"-- recognition learning, for example. These results indicate that individual differences such as those associated with ontogenetic progression, some mental disorders, or aging, simply do not occur ( Hasher, 1981).
If taken to represent the physiological change responsible for establishing in memory a record of a unitary event, "consolidation" is indeed a necessary condition for learning; but it cannot be sufficient so long as "learning" involves behavioral change to more than one unitary event. In short, by equating learning rate with consolidation rate, we would have completely missed many of the factors that are in fact responsible for many individual differences in the processing of memories.
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