Principles of Memory: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Principles of Memory

1st Edition

By Aimée M. Surprenant, Ian Neath

Psychology Press

188 pages

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In over 100 years of scientific research on human memory, and nearly 50 years after the so-called cognitive revolution, we have nothing that really constitutes a widely accepted and frequently cited law of memory, and perhaps only one generally accepted principle. The purpose of this monograph is to begin to rectify this situation by proposing 7 principles of human memory that apply to all memory. These principles are qualitative statements of empirical regularities that can serve as intermediary explanations and which follow from viewing memory as a function. They apply to all types of information, to all memory systems, and to all time scales. The principles highlight important gaps in our knowledge, challenge existing organizational views of memory, and suggest important new lines of research.

This volume is intended for people in the field of memory (from advanced undergraduates to seasoned researchers), although it will be of interest to those who would like a comprehensive overview of the fundamental regularities in cognitive functioning.


"Principles of Memory should be on every memory researcher’s reading list." - David S. Kreiner in PsycCRITIQUES

"The book is scholarly and original. The authors take us on an entertaining journey through many fields of memory research in their search for general principles of memory, making many interesting observations along the way. I will certainly recommend this monograph to both colleagues and students." - Gordon D.A. Brown, University of Western Australia

Table of Contents

1. Introduction. 2. Systems or Process? 3. Principle 1: The Cue Driven Principle. 4. Principle 2: The Encoding-Retrieval Principle. 5. Principle 3: The Cue Overload Principle. 6: Principle 4: The Reconstruction Principle. 7. Principle 5: The Impurity Principle. 8. Principle 6: The Relative Distinctiveness Principle. 9: Principle 7: The Specificity Principle. 10. Evaluation, Limitations, and Implications. References.

About the Authors

Aimée M. Surprenant is currently a professor in the Department of Psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Canada. She received a B.A. in psychology from New York University in 1988 and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Yale University in 1992. She received a National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health for post-doctoral work at Indiana University in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. Her research has been published in journals such as Memory, Memory & Cognition, Perception & Psychophysics, the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, and the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Ian Neath is currently a professor and head of the Department of Psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Canada. He received a B.A. in psychology and history from Rice University in 1987, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University in 1991. He has published numerous articles and chapters on human memory, and is currently on the editorial boards of Memory & Cognition, the Journal of Memory and Language, and Psychological Science.

About the Series

Essays in Cognitive Psychology

Essays in Cognitive Psychology is designed to meet the need for rapid publication of brief volumes in cognitive psychology.

Primary topics include perception, movement and action, attention, memory, mental representation, language and problem solving.

Furthermore, the series seeks to define cognitive psychology in its broadest sense, encompassing all topics either informed by, or informing, the study of mental processes. As such, it covers a wide range of subjects including computational approaches to cognition, cognitive neuroscience, social cognition, and cognitive development, as well as areas more traditionally defined as cognitive psychology.

Each volume in the series makes a conceptual contribution to the topic by reviewing and synthesizing the existing research literature, by advancing theory in the area, or by some combination of these missions.

The principal aim is that authors provide an overview of their own highly successful research program in an area.

Volumes also include an assessment of current knowledge and identification of possible future trends in research.

Each book is a self-contained unit supplying the advanced reader with a well-structured review of the work described and evaluated.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology