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Human Episodic Memory - Essay Example

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This paper critically evaluates the cognitive neuropsychological evidence used to support the claim that human episodic memory is comprised of separate short- and long-term stores. For this purpose detailed account of memory and its function in human cognitive system is presented here with an explanation of phases of memory and how its stores shedding light upon long and short term stores of human episodic memory…
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Human Episodic Memory
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Download file to see previous pages This is in marked contrast to the many inborn adaptations that humans and other animals have developed during millions of years of evolution, behaviors that can be expressed with no special instructions from the environment. Such inherited abilities allow an individual to consume food and water, process information through the five senses, and operate according to a sleep-wake cycle.The ability to change as a result of the events that occur during an individual's lifetime is also inherited. The experiences that an animal has can modify its nervous system, causing it to behave differently as a result of these experiences. It is this capacity for change that enables animals to learn and remember.
Any instance of learning and remembering can be broken down into three phases: Learning (or encoding); Storage; and Retrieval. In this paper our focus is on the second memory phase, that is, storage, so I will not go into the details of first and third phases and move towards storage directly. (Anderson, 1995) The storage phase of memory refers to the period of time that intervenes between learning and retrieval. Two events, forgetting and consolidation are thought to occur during the storage phase.
About forgetting scientists have long debated whether it is the g...
The second idea is supported by the fact that individuals will from time to time recall an apparently forgotten detail from the remote past.
Of course, better neurological evidence rather than opinion polls and debates will eventually establish the nature of forgetting. For example, it will be necessary to ascertain whether those changes in the neurons (nerve cells) and synapses (the connecting points between neurons, across which neural signals travel) that initially represent information in the nervous system do or do not disappear over time. The information so far available on this point, mostly from studies of memory in animals with simple nervous systems, suggests that forgetting, whether it occurs after a few hours or many days reflects in part an actual loss of information from storage and a corresponding regression of some of the synaptic changes needed to retain the data.
Rather than being stored instantaneously, information is first reorganized and stabilized, or consolidated, over time. Consolidation can continue in animals for weeks or months and in humans for several years. During this period memories can be modified, strengthened, or weakened by the interpolation of new material.
For example, if a learning session is followed by instruction in some related material, the second round of learning can interfere with the retention of material from the first, thereby weakening the strength of the original memory trace. This phenomenon is called retroactive interference. (Terr, 1995) Neuroscience research has provided insight into the biological foundations of memory, both in terms of memory-related molecular and cellular ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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