2nd Edition

Chapter 1



Classical conditioning:
A learning procedure whereby a neutral stimulus (e.g. a bell) that is paired repeatedly with a response-evoking stimulus (e.g. meat powder), will come to evoke that response (salivation).
Echoic memory:
A term sometimes applied to auditory sensory memory.
Episodic memory:
A system that is assumed to underpin the capacity to remember specific events.
Explicit/declarative memory:
Memory that is open to intentional retrieval, whether based on recollecting personal events (episodic memory) or facts (semantic memory).
Gestalt psychology:
An approach to psychology that was strong in Germany in the 1930s and that attempted to use perceptual principles to understand memory and reasoning.
Iconic memory:
A term applied to the brief storage of visual information.
Implicit/nondeclarative memory:
Retrieval of information from long-term memory through performance rather than explicit conscious recall or recognition.
Long-term memory:
A system or systems assumed to underpin the capacity to store information over long periods of time.
A process by which the perception and/or storage of a stimulus is influenced by events occurring immediately before presentation (forward masking) or more commonly after (backward masking).
Mental time travel:
A term coined by Tulving to emphasize the way in which episodic memory allows us to relive the past and use this information to imagine the future.
Modal model:
A term applied to the model of memory developed by Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968).
A method of expressing a theory more precisely, allowing predictions to made and tested.
The process whereby presentation of an item influences the processing of a subsequent item, either making it easier to process (positive priming) or more difficult (negative priming).
The view that all scientific explanations should aim to be based on a lower level of analysis: psychology in terms of physiology, physiology in terms of chemistry, and chemistry in terms of physics.
Proposed by Bartlett to explain how our knowledge of the world is structured and influences the way in which new information is stored and subsequently recalled.
Semantic memory:
A system that is assumed to store accumulative knowledge of the world.
Sensory memory:
A term applied to the brief storage of information within a specific modality.
Short-term memory (STM):
A term applied to the retention of small amounts of material over periods of a few seconds.
Verbal learning:
A term applied to an approach to memory that relies principally on the learning of lists of words and nonsense syllables.
Working memory:
A memory system that underpins our capacity to “keep things in mind” when performing complex tasks.



An edited version of a BBC documentary about Clive Wearing – ‘Man without a memory’.
An interview with Deborah Wearing.
A video about Dr. Endel Tulving.
An implicit memory demo.

Please find below biographies of three important researchers in the field of memory: Kenneth James William Craik, Ulric Neisser, and Donald Eric Broadbent.

Kenneth James William Craik

Personal history

Kenneth Craik, born on March 29, 1914 in Leith, Scotland, attended the Edinburgh Academy prior to receiving a first class honors degree at the University of Edinburgh, where he studied philosophy. It was there that he took an interest in psychology, attending classes taught by James Drevor. After winning the Shaw Fellowship in philosophy, Craik researched brightness discrimination and dark adaptation in the George Combe laboratory, along with Drevor.

He moved to Cambridge University, where he joined Frederick Bartlett’s research laboratory in 1936 as a junior researcher and eventually earned his psychology Ph.D. 4 years later. Together, Craik and Bartlett investigated the acquisition of motor skills and performance fatigue, applying their findings to the training of World War II military personnel. Craik was given the post of the first director of the British Medical Research Council’s newly minted Applied Psychology Research Unit in Cambridge. Just days before the end of the War, on May 7, 1945, Craik died in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, as a result of a bicycle accident at the age of 31. His death dealt a terrible blow to his friend and collaborator, Bartlett, as well as to the cognitive revolution Craik’s work inspired. Cambridge’s Kenneth Craik Laboratory was named in his honor in 1976.


Craik’s early publications focused on a wide range of topics of importance to the airforce, including visibility through fighter plane windows, instrument lighting, and fatigue. To test his hypotheses related to in-flight ergonomics, Craik went as far as to built an experimental cockpit.
Craik’s only book, published in 1943 and called The Nature of Explanation, put forth the idea that the mind creates mental models of reality that permit us to reason, understand, and predict future events. This book made the case for a so-called experimental philosophy that could be studied in psychological, as well as physiological, terms rather than relying on introspection, covering everything from quantum physics to how the nervous system might act as a calculating machine and give rise to perception and thought. Although Alan Turing was the one to formalize the connection between Computing Machinery and Intelligence nearly a decade after Craik’s death, Craik’s work and interests earned his position as an early and important pioneer of the information-processing approach that spawned the cognitive revolution.

After Craik’s death, the British Journal of Psychology published his paper, Theory of Human Operations in Control Systems. In it, Craik laid the groundwork for what would become Cybernetics, or the science of automatic control systems. Craik discussed how learning, cyclical events in the nervous system, and servomechanisms (i.e., a mechanism that produces a force greater than its input) are interrelated. In fact, Craik would suggest that the principal characteristics of thought (e.g., memory and prediction) are evident in nonhuman mechanisms.

Most of Craik’s later work remained the exclusive purview of the applied psychology unit at Cambridge, until 1966 when his unpublished papers and writings were collected and published in The Nature of Psychology. The work revealed his broad interests, ranging from claustrophobia to Marxism to the philosophy of war.


Craik, K. J. W. (1943). The nature of exploration. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Craik, K. J. W. (1947). Theory of the Human Operator in Control Systems I. British Journal of Psychology, 38, 56–61.

Craik, K. J. W. (1947). Theory of the Human Operator in Control Systems II. British Journal of Psychology, 38, 142–148.

Craik, K. J. W. (1966). The nature of psychology (S.L. Sherwood, Ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Ulric Neisser

Personal history

Ulric Neisser was born on December 8, 1928 in Kiel, Germany where he spent his first 3 years. He then moved to the United States where he grew up in the Philadelphia and New York suburbs, while his father, an economics professor, taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the New School for Social Research. He started at Harvard University as an undergraduate studying physics, though he event

Neisser then moved on to Swarthmore College for his Master’s degree, studying Gestalt psychology with Wolfgang Köhler and Hans Wallach. From there he moved to MIT’s psychology department for a short while until his distaste for their singular emphasis on information theory led him back to Harvard. Under the tutelage of S.S. Stevens, he was trained in the behaviorist method and earned his Ph.D. in 1956. A year later, Neisser took a teaching position at Brandeis University in the department headed by Maslow at the time.

In 1968, after the publication of Cognitive Psychology, he and his wife, Arden, moved to Cornell University. After teaching at Cornell, he moved to Emory University in 1983 where he remained for 13 years, founding the Emory Cognition Project. Finally, he returned to Cornell, where he was Professor Emeritus. Ulric Neisser died in 2012.

During his career, Neisser received both a Guggenheim and a Sloan fellowship and was a member of the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists. His life and work were celebrated in November, 1996 at Emory University, which resulted in the book Ecological Approaches to Cognition: Essays in Honor of Ulric Neisser.


At Brandeis, Neisser investigated the visual search, though it was his later work that made Neisser famous. Known as the founder of the field of Cognitive Psychology, Neisser published his seminal work Cognitive Psychology in 1967, coining the term and kicking off the cognitive movement. Neisser included under this umbrella the quest to understand how people learn, store, and utilize knowledge. A decade later he would publish Cognition and Reality, which pushed for a greater emphasis on ecologically valid and meaningful research, instead of the small, incremental steps taken in the laboratory.

His building frustration over the direction cognitive psychology had taken guided him into the field of environmental psychology shared by his friend at Cornell, J.J. Gibson. He used real-world events, such as Watergate and the trials that followed, as sources for memory research, analyzing John Dean’s testimony and the Watergate tapes. In 1995, the American Psychological Association asked Neisser to head a task force reviewing controversies surrounding intelligence testing arising from the publication of Herrnstein’s The Bell Curve, which resulted in the 1998 report, called The Rising Curve. This consensus statement outlined the research indicating that rather than intelligence being fixed, IQ scores have been increasing over time across the globe due to test wiseness, increased complexity in the environment, and improvements in nutrition, to name a few. Furthermore, Neisser and colleagues concluded that the IQ gap between Caucasians and African-American school children in the United States is actually narrowing over time.

Neisser’s present interests include naturalistic autobiographical memories, individual and group differences in intelligence measures, and self perception. Not only has Neisser sought answers to the fundamental questions regarding memory and cognition, he attempts to use the resulting research to improve the world.


Neisser, U. (1967). Cognitive psychology. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Winograd, E., & Neisser, U. (1988). Remembering reconsidered: Ecological and traditional approaches to the study of memory. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Neisser, U. (Ed.) (1998). The rising curve: Long-term gains in IQ and related measures. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Neisser, U., et al. (1995). Intelligence: Knowns and unknowns. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Donald Eric Broadbent

Personal history

Donald Broadbent was born on May 6, 1926 in Yardley, England, though he grew up in his ancestral home of Wales. His family moved from a relatively meager financial status into affluence with the success of his father’s position in a multinational company. However, World War II drew his father away for good. His mother insisted on providing the best education possible for her son, sending him to Winchester. Though he studied classics and the physical sciences there, he longed to be able to answer what he felt were more pressing, real-world problems.

In 1944 he joined the Royal Air Force after attending a required engineering course at Cambridge University, and flight school in the United States. During the course of his time with the Air Force, he noticed the poor ergonomic design of the instruments and gauges in the cockpit, yet marveled at the psychometric tests used to screen Air Force applicants. He returned to Cambridge to face an environment less favorable to the field of psychology than he found in the United States. Yet, Broadbent persisted and convinced the admissions committee of Pembroke College to allow him to study the subject. Hence, Broadbent joined the, then meager, psychology department to find that its head, Sir Frederick Bartlett, was also keenly interested in applying empirical findings to real-world situations, including the military.

In 1949 he graduated with a first-class degree in moral science and, in short order, married his childhood sweetheart, Margaret Elizabeth, nicknamed Peg, with whom he would have two daughters. Sadly, one would perish in a traffic accident in October, 1979, prompting him to renounce his Christian faith.

The Medical Research Council’s Applied Psychology Unit at Cambridge offered Broadbent a job to study the effects of noise on—a concern of the Royal Navy. He stayed at the Applied Psychology Unit for 25 years, taking over as the director of the Unit in 1958, after it had become one of the largest psychological laboratories in the whole of Europe. Following a divorce from his first wife, the ever-private Broadbent married his graduate assistant, Margaret Pattison Gregory on November 11, 1972.

After years of dedicated service, including promoting psychology and on television and radio, he grew anxious to free himself of the heavy administrative burden associated with his role as director, and moved to Oxford University’s department of experimental psychology as a member of the external Medical Research Council staff, rather than a member of the University faculty—a post he happily avoided throughout his life. Broadbent was named a fellow of the Royal Society in 1958 and a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Science in 1971. On April 10, 1993, he died suddenly of heart failure. His ashes were scattered across the Welsh hills on which he frequently used to take long walks.


While researching how noise level affects radar watching and other vigilance tasks at the Applied Psychology Unit, he also pursued research into how air traffic controllers sift through a large amount of incoming noise to focus in on the important bits of signal.

From this and related investigations using dichotic listening tasks, Broadbent would develop an information-processing model of attentional selection and short-term memory. His model assumed that the onslaught of incoming information is sensed automatically, without attention, while basic sensory processing (e.g., edge detection) occurs. Next, the information is passed along to a brief sensory store where different features are detected separately, but in parallel. After this stage, the information is filtered through an attentional bottleneck early in the nervous system’s processing, after which point higher-level processing of the information that was attended occurs (e.g., pattern recognition of letters and words). Thus, the bottleneck prevents information overload.

Broadbent’s ideas populated his book, Perception and Communication, which was to become a milestone in the development of cognitive psychology.


Broadbent, D. E. (1975). The magic number seven after fifteen years. In A. Kennedy and A. Wilkes (Eds.) Studies in long-term memory. Chichester, UK: Wiley.

Broadbent, D. E. (1958). Perception and communication. Oxford, UK: Pergamon.

Broadbent, D. E. (1952). Listening to one of two synchronous messages. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 44, 51–55.

Broadbent, D. E. (1962). Attention and the perception of speech. Scientific American, 206, 143–51.