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We know from DNA exonerations of people wrongfully convicted of crimes that a large majority of those cases -- one of the more recent estimates is that in the first cases of DNA exonerations, roughly 70 to 75 percent of those individuals were convicted on the basis of faulty eyewitness memory. So they got put away and were ultimately were exonerated based on DNA evidence.

We know this is a significant problem. We also saw that, as I wrote in Searching for Memory years ago, in the controversy over false and recovered memories. A lot of these memories recovered in psychotherapy where individuals came to believe they had recovered long repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse turned out to be inaccurate and were the product of suggestion and other therapeutic practices that induce false memories. One of the interesting recent lines of research that my lab has been involved in over the past few years has been looking at similarities between what goes on between the brain and mind when we remember past events on the one hand and imagine events that might occur in the future or might have occurred in the past.

What we have found, particularly with brain scanning studies, is that you get very similar brain networks coming online when you remember past events and imagine future events, for example. I had a couple more questions about types of memory. What is the difference between working memory and permanent memory? One of the interesting things about field and observer is that, again, as I wrote in Searching for Memory and I believe still holds, in field memory you are recalling a memory from the point of view as you initially experienced it.

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You see it from your own eyes. So an observer memory is like looking at a photo of yourself at your wedding or your first day of school -- you picture yourself as a character in the event you recall.

Semon, Richard (1859-1918)

They take on that quality. You stress the effect of our biases on our memories and you mention a study of the supporters of Ross Perot for president in That was on misremembering how disappointed or hopeful they were depending on their current state. One of the points from that Ross Perot study is that his supporters often misremembered what they felt like at the time he reported he had dropped out of the race.

The nature of that misremembering depended on their state at the time they were remembering and what decisions they had made about Perot in the interim affected how they reconstructed their earlier memories. Again, that makes nicely the point that our current emotions and current appraisals of a situation can feed back into our reconstruction of the past and sometimes lead us to distort our memories so that they better support our current emotions and our current selves. Did the study show that the feelings of Perot supporters became less intense over time?

It was not so much that the feelings became less intense, but they were modulated by the current state of the person at the time of remembering. Their feelings changed, and those changes in feeling led them to misremember what they had initially felt. Do you have any further thoughts on other things that would be helpful for historians to know about memory?

That is the main point. Our latest thinking on this is the idea that one of the major functions of memory is to support our ability to plan for the future, to imagine the future, and to use our past experiences in a flexible way to simulate different outcomes of events. That can aid our planning because we can use our past experience to imagine, for example, how a difficult conversation with a friend might play out.

We can use our memory to imagine events in that way, and that flexibility of memory is something that makes it useful to support this very important ability to run simulations of future events. But that very flexibility might be something that contributes to some of the memory distortion we talked about. That has been prominent in the last few years in my thinking about the constructive nature of memory. I think that generally holds true. And finally, how did you decide to study psychology and what prompted you to devote your career to the study of memory?

I decided to study psychology when my interest in the topic was stimulated by a high school course. I was a psychology major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but only become interested in memory after graduation, when I worked as a research assistant for Dr.


Crovitz had begun to study brain-damaged patients with memory disorders, and I tested many of those patients. I was intrigued by the extent of their memory loss despite general preservation of other intellectual functions. That led me to focus on memory in my subsequent graduate studies at the University of Toronto, a world center for memory research.

Thank you so much for your comments Dr. Feinman Job Board.

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But, like history, human memory is much more complicated. And you distinguish remembering and knowing. When you lose detail, you become prone to lots of interesting memory errors. Are flashbulb memories akin to memories of trauma? For those wishing greater familiarity with his work, Dr. Schacter has highly valued contributions to our understanding of memory and related mental processes spanning the last 40 years.

Consider that he published his first book as an early graduate student a biographical work about Richard Semon , and has to his credit hundreds of articles, chapters, and books and many with thousands of citations in the literature. A few wonderful examples are provided below:. His work and life are fascinating and I will be commenting about them in my next few posts.

For today, I have posted an audio clip in which Dr. As is often the case in the research, a seemingly small observation from a research study spawned significant thought and advancement. In this case, a question support new ideas for Tulving and a reconceptualization of the memory system for Schacter. I invite you to enjoy a few minutes of Dr. Schacter describing this finding and linking these various parts of his career:. Hope you enjoy Dr. He is working on a new project to capture the voices and ideas of prominent and influential Psychologists who have shaped the field.

View all posts by Michael Gordon. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Locke, J. An essay concerning human understanding.

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Hooke vs. Centaurus , 7 , 6— Murdock, B. Two tests of the conveyor-belt model for item recognition. Canadian Journal of Psychology , 31 , 71— Murray, D. A history of western psychology. Gestalt psychology and the cognitive revolution. Hemel Hempstead, U. Pavlov, I. Conditioned reflexes G. Anrep, Trans. Ratcliff, R. A theory of memory retrieval. Psychological Review , 85 , 59— Reason, J. Using cognitive diaries to investigate naturally occurring memory blocks. Morris Eds. London: Academic Press. Ribot, T.

Diseases of memory. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts. Roberts, S. How persuasive is a good fit? A comment on theory testing. Psychological Review , , — Roediger, H. Explaining dissociations between implicit and explicit measures of retention: A processing account. Craik Eds. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Russell, W. Traumatic amnesia. Brain , 69 , — Schacter, D. Forgotten ideas, neglected pioneers: Richard Semon and the story of memory. Scoville, W. Loss of recent memory after bilateral hippocampal lesions. Semon, R.

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  8. Mnemic psychology B. Duffy, Trans. Shimamura, A. Priming effects in amnesia: Evidence for a dissociable memory function. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology , 38A , — Singer, B.

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    Robert Hooke on memory: Association and time perception I. Squire, L. Memory and the hippocampus: A synthesis of findings with rats, monkeys, and humans. Psychological Review , 99 , — Strong, E.