Larry R. Squire University of California, School of Medicine, La Jolla
Neal J. Cohen Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Lynn Nadel University of California, Irvine
The concept of memory consolidation--the idea that memory changes with the passage of time after learning--has been discussed and debated throughout this century in the disciplines of experimental psychology, physiological psychology, and neuropsychology. What is striking about these various inquiries is that each has had its own developmental history and that there has seldom been good correspondence among the disciplines in how memory consolidation should be viewed. It will be our contention here that converging evidence from all three disciplines now permits a new and coherent view of memory consolidation. This chapter presents evidence that memory changes for a long time after learning and describes a new framework in which the concept of memory consolidation can be placed.
Consolidation theory had its beginnings in experimental psychology as a way of explaining the detrimental effects on retention of a learning experience interpolated during the retention interval ( Muller & Pilzecker, 1900). The shorter the interval between original learning and interpolated learning, the greater the deficit. It was supposed that the formation of stable memory required some change to occur after learning and that interpolated learning interfered with this stabilizing process. However, such an account of these data was eventually replaced by interference theory (see Keppel, this volume), which was deemed to provide a better explanation of both these and many other data. Current work on memory within cognitive psychology has largely ignored consolidation, focusing instead