The Adult: A Review of His Memory

  • E. N. Dunkin
Part of the Psychology for Professional Groups book series (PPG)


The first reaction to seeing yet another global word at the beginning of a chapter is probably ‘What are we talking about this time?’, and the direct answer has to be that no one is very sure what is meant by ‘memory’. Like the rest of the world, we have a good idea of what contributes to memory and when we find it useful. But looking at the historical record of psychology, we seem to be in much the same state now, when it comes to defining memory, as they were in the heyday of the Greek and Roman orators. We know a few ways of using memory reliably, but we have not been all that successful in deciding just what it is and how to make it more efficient ALL the time, whatever IT is. Perhaps our inability to make it more reliable stems from not having a clear idea of what it is. We can describe the items and processes that contribute to it, but we do not make a very good job of adding up the parts and deciding what it is that we have been assembling.


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  1. Bartlett, F.C. (1932) Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Miller, G. (1956) The magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information. Psychological Review, 60, 81–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Norman, D.A. (1970) Models of Human Memory. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  4. Sperling, G. (1960) The information available in brief visual presentations. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar

Annotated reading

  1. Baddeley, A.D. (1976) The Psychology of Memory. New York: Basic Books Inc. This book is very easy to read. It offers broad coverage of the current state of knowledge about memory, and relates this to historical aspects and to applied situations.Google Scholar
  2. Broadbent, D.E. (1958) Perception and Communication. London: Pergamon Press. This deals with hearing and perception as the bases of communication, surveys the experimental work and discusses the value of auditory studies. It is written in a clear style and stresses that people must be appreciated as ‘whole’ beings as well as offering a variety of separate senses that are amenable to special study.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hunter, I.M.L. (1973) Memory. Harmondsworth: Penguin. Despite its relatively early date of publication, this book remains a classic: it surveys the available data on the potential and limitations of human memory and emphasizes those enquiries that have given most information on the basic activities of memory.Google Scholar
  4. Mace, C.A. (1976) The Psychology of Study. Harmondsworth: Penguin. This is a useful text: recommended to students interested in improving study habits.Google Scholar
  5. Norman, D.A. (1970) Models of Human Memory. New York: Academic Press. A series of articles by investigators who are authorities in this field.Google Scholar
  6. Richter, D. (1966) Aspects of Learning and Memory. London: Heinemann. Another collection of papers by individual scientists working in different fields. The first three chapters deal with problems of human memory and the remainder of the book considers memory in terms of physiology, biochemistry and animal behaviour.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The British Psychological Society 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. N. Dunkin

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