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Symposium on disorders of memory
001 Concepts of memory
  1. A Baddeley

    Author information: Alan Baddeley is a Professor of Psychology at the University of York. He graduated in psychology from University College London and after an MA at Princeton joined the Medical Research Council Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge where he completed a PhD and spent 9 years working in areas that linked basic and applied psychology. From there he moved to the Department of Experimental Psychology at Sussex, later becoming Professor of Psychology at the University of Stirling. He returned to the APU in Cambridge as Director, and after 20 years moved on first to Bristol and then to York. His prime interest is in the psychology and neuropsychology of human memory. With Graham Hitch he developed the concept of a multicomponent working memory, proposing a model that has continued to guide his work throughout his career. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the British Academy, the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was awarded a CBE for his contribution to the study of memory. He has published many papers, and a number of books, the latest being a memory text book, jointly with Michael Eysenck and Michael Anderson.


Abstract: Psychological and neuropsychological evidence indicates that human memory can be seen as comprising a number of separable but interacting memory systems. Information from the environment is first processed through a series of brief sensory memory systems that can best be regarded as part of the processes of perception. Information then flows directly into long-term memory, and in parallel into working memory, a system for keeping information “in mind”, while performing complex cognitive activities such as reasoning, learning and comprehending. Working memory can be decomposed into four subsystems comprising at the central executive, an attentionally limited control system, two modality-based storage systems one for acoustic-verbal information, the phonological loop, and the other for visuo-spatial information. A fourth component the episodic buffer provides a multidimensional temporary store that links these components with long-term memory and perception. Long-term memory can be split into two broad categories, explicit and implicit. Explicit memory comprises episodic memory, our capacity to recollect specific experiences; it is this aspect of memory that is particularly vulnerable to disease or brain damage. The second component is semantic memory which stores our knowledge of the world. There is a range of implicit systems which accumulate information that can later be used, but do not require conscious retrieval. Examples include acquiring motor skills, classical conditioning, perceptual priming and the general acquisition of habits.

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