Episodic Memory

Topics: Memory Pages: 4 (1194 words) Published: October 8, 1999

The mechanism of human memory recall is neither a parallel nor a sequential retrieval of previously learned events. Instead, it is a complex system that has elements of both sequential and parallel modalities, engaging all of the sensory faculties of the individual. On an everyday level, issues about memory and recall affect everyone. It has a bearing on ramifications from the trivial to matters of life and death. Thus, a particular student might worry about his or her ability to remember 'memorized' material, a person might worry about losing his or her mind, and, there are the more troubling issue of diseases affecting memory such as Alzheimer's disease. According to Tulving, episodic memory represents only a small part of the much larger domain of memory (Tulving, 1992, p.1). Specifically, episodic memory is the process involved in remembering past events. This paper is a review of research findings on episodic memory with specific attention to episodic memory in adults and infants.

Episodic Memory in Adults

In society, it is quite common for people in their golden years or even well before that, to worry about losing their memory. There is scientific evidence to support this notion of degradation of memory with age. It is now well known in neurology that brain cells die off as one ages. Verhaeghen and Marcoen (1993, pp. 172-178) found that the decline associated with age in relation to the ability to perform episodic memory tasks involving deliberate recall appears to be largely a quantitative rather than a qualitative phenomenon. The ability of older adults to recall individual items in lists, or ideas in texts could be predicted based on the performance by younger adults on the same tasks. From their data in a sample of 48 younger and 45 older adults, they postulated a relationship between recall and age with a median correlation of r = .88. The same item characteristics could be used to predict probability of recall by...
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