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Human Ageing and Disturbances of Memory Control Processes Underlying “Intelligent” Performance of Some Cognitive Tasks

  • Patrick Rabbitt
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 14)

Abstract

This essay is an attempt to suggest lines along which we may begin a new kind of analysis of some of the cognitive operations which humans find necessary in order to carry out simple cognitive tasks. It is based on the general premise that most cognitive tasks which people perform in everyday life—that is most tasks which require the sort of behaviour which we call “intelligent” — depend on the efficiency with which people can briefly remember, and rapidly retrieve, information about events which they have just experienced, actions which they have just performed, or information about the results of computations which they have just completed. A second premise is that individual differences in cognitive efficiency may be partly related to individual differences in the efficiency with which information about recent events, actions, and computations can be stored, indexed and retrieved in immediate memory systems, and may also be related to differences in the efficiency with which information held in immediate memory can be used to control, to access, or to “index”, other information which is held in long term memory. A last premise is that neither the processes underlying most cognitive skills, nor differences in the efficiency with which individuals carry out these processes can be properly understood if we continue to consider immediate memory simply as an elementary, passive buffer for the storage and retrieval of information. We must rather learn to consider immediate memory as an active system in which new items of information are continually received, transformed, up-dated, re-indexed and re-combined. When these premises are thus presented as abstract generalisations they are, no doubt, irritatingly vague and convey to the reader no more than a sense of particular, ill-formed prejudices. They are perhaps better introduced in terms of four distinct classes of experiments in terms of which the author and his associates have tried to give them concrete definition.

Keywords

Cognitive Task Secondary Task Closed Head Injury Colour Shape Current Digit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Rabbitt
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OxfordOxfordEngland

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