Talking about Memory
Voices on the nature of recall
(revised 20 November 2000)
Contents and Links
"The key process of memory is retrieval": Interview with Endel Tulving
"Memory is a distributed system": Excerpts from Richard Cytowic
Aspects of memory: Cytowic's classification
Reality monitoring: Excerpts from Johnson (separate file)
Bibliography of memory research
The key process of memory is retrieval Top
Endel Tulving in interview with Michael Gazzaniga

"Of course memories are not stored at synapses. But I think it is useful to contemplate the possibility that they are not stored anywhere else in the brain either. The whole issue of where or, more important, how memories are stored in the brain may turn out to be an incorrect formulation of the problem, despite its seductively enticing allure. And the sournce of such an incorrect formulation may lie in the single-minded preoccupation with the storage, or the engram, and sometimes even identification of storage with memory. This preoccupation with the physical changes that follow from an experience that can be remembered seems to be accompanied by a rather conspicuous neglect of retrieval processes." (97)

"As a scientist I am compelled to the conclusion—not postulation, not assumption, but conclusion—that there must exist certain physical-chemical changes in the nervous tissue that correspond to the storage of information, or to the engram, changes that constitute the necessary conditions of remembering. (The alternative stance, that it may be possible for any behavior or any thought to occur independently of physical changes in the nervous system, as all your good readers know, is sheer mysticism.) However, if the engram is a kind of entity that manifests itself only in activity, or retrieval, then we might conjecture that the physical changes resulting from experience do not exist as an engram in the absence of that activity. And we can also imagine that the engram, qua engram, is not detectable in its quiescent state, that is, in the absence of retrieval, with any physical technique." (98-99).

"Even if you could somehow identify the total pattern of physical/chemical aftereffects of an experienced event, in all of its intricate and elaborate detail and full-blown complexity, you would nhave no way of knowing or predicting what kind of a memory (in the sense of experience) that engram is going to produce: that depends on the retrieval process, and that process has not yet occurred." (104).

"It is not only useful but important to distinguish between the storage metaphor, on the one hand, and the idea of the physical indeterminacy of the engram, on the other." (106).

"The approach of cognitive psychology and the approach of neurobiology are complementary, and there is no problem whatever. The problem arises only if one assumes that the physical approach is the only one, or the most essential one, or the fundamental one, that is, the old die-hard reductionist position. Remembering is a completely emergent, biological-psychological process of the brain." (108).
Up Table of content for Gazzaniga's book
Gazzaniga, Michael S. (ed.) 

Conversations in the Cognitive Neurosciences
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997


Memory is a Distributed System  Top
Richard E. Cytowic, MD

Aspects of memory Top

Figure 1. After Cytowic (1996)

On the Amygdala

On the Relation between the Neocortex and the Limbic System On Dreaming
Richard E. Cytowic, MD 
The Neurological Side of Neuropsychology

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996


Bibliography of Memory Research Top

Abel, T., C. Alberini, M. Ghirardi, Y-Y. Huang, P. Nguyen, and E.R. Kandel (1995). Steps toward a molecular definition of memory consolidation. In Schacter 1995: 298-325.

Baddeley, Alan (2000). The episodic buffer: A new component of working memory? Trends in Conitive Sciences 4. 12 (2000): 417-423. Abstract.

Cho, Kwangwook (2001). Chronic 'jet lag' produces temporal lobe atrophy and spatial cognitive deficits. Nature Neuroscience 4: 567-568 (external link). BBC news report (external).

Goldman-Rakic, Patricia S. et al. (eds.) (2000). Memory. A section in The New Cognitive Neurosciences (2nd ed.). Edited by Michael S. Gazzaniga et al. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.  Abstract.

Larsen, Steen Folke. Memorable Books: Recall of Reading and Its Personal Context. Empirical Approaches to Literature and Aesthetics. Norwood, NJ. 1996.

Mayes, Andrew R., Patricia A. Gooding and Rob van Eijk (1997). A New Theoretical Framework For Explicit and Implicit Memory. Psyche: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Consciousness 3(2). The paper has an excellent up-do-date bibliography on memory research, and  a detailed discussion of possible mechanisms of reality monitoring (external file).

Miyake, Akira and Priti Shah (eds) (1999). Models of working memory: Mechanisms of active maintenance and executive control. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Abstracts.

Moscovitch, M. (1995) Recovered consciousness: A hypothesis concerning modularity and episodic memory. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology 17: 276-290.

Nyberg, Lars, Jonas Persson, Reza Habib, Endel Tulving, Anthony R. McIntosh, Roberto Cabeza, and Sylvian Houle (2000). Large Scale Neurocognitive Networks Underlying Episodic Memory. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 12. 1 (January 2000).

Rajaram, S. (1993). Remembering and knowing: Two means of access to the personal past. Memory and Cognition 21: 89-12.

Roediger, H. (1990). Implicit memory: Retention without remembering. American Psychologist 45: 1043-1056.

Rolls, Edmund T. (2000). Memory Systems in the Brain. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2000. 51:599-630. Abstract (external).

Rose, S. (1992). The Making of Memory. London: Bantam Press.

Schacter, D.L., M. Verfaellie, and D. Pradere (1996) The neuropsychology of memory illusions: False recall and recognition in amnesic patients. Journal of Memory and Language 35: 319-334.

Schacter, D.L. and E. Tulving (eds) (1994). Memory Systems. London: MIT Press.

Schacter, D.L. (ed) (1995). Memory Distortion: How Minds, Brains, and Societies Reconstruct the Past. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Sirigu, Angela; Grafman, Jordan. Selective impairments within episodic memories. Cortex, 1996 Mar, v32 (n1):83-95. Abstract. Dissociation between episodic memory of time and person vs place and content.

Squire, L.R. (1992). Memory and the Hippocampus: A synthesis from findings with rats, monkeys and humans. Psychological Review 99: 195-231.

Squire, L.R. (1994). Declarative and Nondeclarative memory : Multiple brain systems supporting learning and memory. In Schacter and Tulving.

Tulving, Endel (1983) Elements of Episodic Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tulving, Endel (1985). Memory and consciousness. Canadian Psychology 26: 1-12.

Tulving, Endel (1993). What is episodic memory? Current Directions in Psychological Science 2: 67-68.

Ungerleider, L.G. (1995) Functional brain imaging studies of cortical mechanisms for memory.
Science 270: 769-775.

Wiggs, C.L., J. Weisberg, S. Garber, and A. Martin (1996). Brain regions associated with semantic and episodic memory. Neuroimaging 3: 568-.

For web sites and general works on neuroscience, see Bibliography on Neuroscience.

Return to Does Adaptationism imply modularity? 
CogSci index
Return to the CogSci index
Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California, Los Angeles