|| Theories of Memory
|| Alan F. Collins, Susan E. Gathercole, Martin A. Conway, and Peter E. Morris
||Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., ©1993
Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
10 Industrial Avenue
Mahwah, NJ 07430-2262
This 428-page book consists of 14 chapters by memory researchers from the United States, Great Britain, and Australia. There are references following each chapter and the book has an author index and a short subject index.
Memory is deeply involved in our system of justice. All testimony one way or another depends upon the nature, function, and processes of human memory. Much of the controversy that surrounds various specific workings of the courts and all allied institutions involves memory. The problem is that all human beings have their own memory, and personal subjective experience affects whatever concepts we may use in relying upon or questioning memory. This book represents the more recent and advanced thinking in the scientific study of human memory. At the same time, the present state of memory research can still be summed up in the quotation from Aristotle with which Katherine Nelson begins her chapter:
"Both very young and very old persons are defective in memory; they are in a state of
flux, the former because of their growth, the latter owing to their decay" (p. 355).
The contributors are well-known and respected scholars in the
field of memory research and many of the chapters are based on papers presented elsewhere or articles previously published. There is no introduction by the editors nor any presentation of a plan for the book. The chapters are strung together like separate pearls or beads on a string. Nevertheless, the individual contributors, by and large, have done a good job of presenting their concepts. Most of the chapters read well and are quite readily understandable by a person not specifically involved in memory research. Although somewhat dated, one of the best chapters is that by Nelson dealing with infantile amnesia. She presents clearly the concepts advanced to account for the facts of infantile amnesia and demonstrates a readiness to suggest and support a social learning explanation for the development of autobiographical memory. The book represents a valuable compilation of disparate information about human memory and should be a useful resource for professionals concerned with memory but not wanting a deep, possibly confusing immersion in memory research.
Reviewed by Ralph Underwager, Institute for Psychological Therapies, Northfield, Minnesota.