The proposed research constitutes an experimental study of episodic memory. The study was conceived of, is presented from, and will eventually be reported from a direct memory perspective. The direct memory perspective contrasts with the traditional mediationist perspective, according to which the remembering of a past event is mediated by some sort of memory trace that serves to bridge the temporal gap between the time of the event and the time of its recall. Mediationism, especially in its contemporary information-processing guise, breeds all manner of constructs and processes. These concepts are entirely hypothetical, and they find no place in the direct memory perspective. Rather, the past is viewed as affecting the present directly, and hence the focus is on the empirical relation between events of the past and the behavior, and especially the conscious experience, of the present. Rejecting mediationism means rejecting mechanism and with it the standard mode of explanation. In its place, particular phenomena are explained as expressions of empirical principles or laws. Much of the proposed research will involve presenting volunteer participants (mostly college students) with lists of items (usually randomly selected words) and then, after a variable interval, administering one of several kinds of memory tests. Six groups of studies will address: (a) internal versus external control over the remembering process, or the extent to which remembering is willful as opposed to stimulus driven, (b) two principles of memory, namely the cue-overload principle (whereby recall is assumed to be mediated by """"""""cues"""""""" whose effectiveness for any given item varies inversely with the number of items they subsume) and the principle of auditory dominance (whereby recent auditory information tends to dominate conscious mind), (c) memory for sets of items qua sets, (d) the possible facilitation of performance on a motor task by prior unrecalled practice events, (e) the functions and characteristics of primary memory, by which is meant the retention of information in conscious mind,and (f) a curious phenomenon whereby the effectiveness of a recall cue is impaired by the prior presentation of lesser versions of the cue. Given the metatheoretical framework within which it will be conducted, the research will be relatively simple in design and consequently easier than most to extend to the study of memory pathology. More specifically, some of the primary memory research will shed light on the nature of cognition in the profoundly deaf and will provide evidence on whether cochlear prostheses can give rise to echoic memory. Also, the motor memory research should provide basic information relevant to an understanding of amnesia.

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Rice University
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