Memory as storage space

DrawersFindings published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, and reported in Wired, add to the evidence that remembering ought not be conceived as the retrieval of an item from a store.

Psychologist Kimberly Wade performed an experiment in which subjects played a gambling task, in pairs. Each member of the pair was entrusted to keep track of her own score. Afterwards, footage was doctored to give the impression that one member of a pair had cheated. The partner of the framed subject was found to show a strong willingness to testify that they themselves had seen their partner cheat, once shown the doctored footage.

The results add to the evidence against a conception of memory as storage of passive vehicles of content. The misremembering in this experiment is not the result of deteriorating memory but rather of further experience. This suggests that what one experiences after the event is perhaps as epistemologically relevant to the quality of the memory as the conditions at the time the memory was formed. Nonetheless, the store metaphor is still popular in fields like philosophy of mind and philosophy of language. Is that a mistake?

For the article in Wired go here.

Related articles:
£1.99 - small Neuroethics: Ethics and the Sciences of Mind
By Neil Levy , University of Melbourne
(Vol. 3, December 2008)
Philosophy Compass

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