Basic and Applied Memory Research: Practical Applications - Vol. 2

By Douglas J. Herrmann; Cathy McEvoy et al. | Go to book overview

Mnemonics and Metacognition

Cesare Cornoldi Rossana De Beni University of Padua, Italy

The study of mnemonics represents one of the most rooted areas of human reflection on memory. As Yates ( 1966) and several other authors documented, many of the greatest thinkers in the history of the study of the mind have shown their interest in the art of memory. A particular but significant example is the Italian Renaissance, which saw the publication of a large number of mnemonic handbooks. As we pointed out elsewhere ( Cornoldi, 1988), this interest cannot be attributed only to the positive but somewhat restricted benefits mnemonics can give. A better understanding of how memory works has long been the focus of research, whether by examining memory in exceptional contexts, when it fails--as happens in psychopathological research--or when it is particularly successful--as in the present case.

Some recent research can be both seen in this light and considered for its practical implications. For example, by studying the first letter strategy, Gruneberg and Owen ( 1994) were able to examine the nature of retrieval blocking and suggest ways to contrast it. Similarly, Groninger and Groninger ( 1994), while studying face-name mnemonics, gave a remarkable contribution on the mediation problems implicit in a context requiring the self-generation of mediators; De Moe Beni, and Cornoldi ( 1994), by studying the loci mnemonics, were able to find modality-specific interference effects between visual imagery and reading. In this presentation the focus is on the practical aspects of mnemonics and their possible theoretical implications. As Gruneberg recently ( 1993) suggested (see also Higbee, 1988), the application range of mnemonics can be misinterpreted and thus create an un

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