Kraepelin and the Age of Innocence
Reminiscence is a technical term, coined by Ballard in 1913, denoting improvement in the performance of a partially learned act that occurs while the subject is resting, i.e., not performing the act in question. He may be performing other types of activity, so that the term “resting” may seem inappropriate; similarly, the term “reminiscence” does not seem too well chosen in view of its everyday meaning to convey the substance of “improvement over rest.” The reality of the phenomenon was of course widely known before Oehrn (1895) first explicitly demonstrated it experimentally; William James, in his typically paradoxical style, referred to our learning to skate in the summer and to play tennis in the winter. Actually this is not so; tennis players and skaters, as well as learners of other sportive activities, need several weeks to recover from the effects of a lengthy rest. If anything, there is a loss of performance during long rest, and even in laboratory tasks quite short rest periods can produce forgetting, i.e., a decrement in performance. Possibly the point James alluded to was the relatively quick recovery of “form” after lengthy rest; this may subjectively feel like improvement over rest.
KeywordsPhysical Work Mental Work Reactive Inhibition Pursuit Rotor Grand Design
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