Memory Changes in Aging

  • Fergus I. M. Craik


In this chapter I will discuss human memory from the standpoint of an experimental psychologist. Whereas neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and others describe the underlying machinery of memory and cognition, psychologists ask the question, “What is the purpose of the machinery, what does it do?” That is, the role of experimental psychology is to give an account of the functions of memory and other cognitive processes, in terms of both behavior and mental experience. The psychology of memory thus exists at a level of description and analysis that is different from those of biochemistry, anatomy, and physiology, although it relates to these other levels of description and, in a sense, depends on them. One analogy is with an oil painting, which could be analyzed in terms of color spectra or in terms of the chemistry of the paint pigments, although neither of these analyses would reveal anything about the subject matter of the painting—to understand that we must move to another level of description. Another analogy that has been drawn is to computers; by this analogy, the psychological level of description is like the software, whereas anatomy and physiology are represented by the hardware. Again, one domain depends on the other, although each is described in its own terms.


Memory Task Free Recall Work Memory Task Semantic Memory Implicit Memory 
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© Birkhäuser Boston 1992

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  • Fergus I. M. Craik

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