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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Memory by Alan Baddeley,Michael W, Eysenck, Michael C. Anderson  (Paperback) People seem to be intrigued by memory, and by its sometimes spectacular failure in (for example) people with amnesia. However, students of memory sometimes fail to retain this fascination. The reason is clear: in order to study memory we must carry out carefully-designed experiments, which can seem boring even when they are exciting science. Fortunately, we now know enough about memory to relate laboratory studies to the world beyond. In other words, our scientific knowledge of memory and how it works can help us to explain those aspects of memory that most people find of greatest interest. This book presents a thorough, accessible and appealing overview of the field, written with students in mind, by some of the world's leading researchers. It starts with a brief overview and explanation of the scientific approach to memory before going on to discuss the basic characteristics of the various memory systems and how they work. Summaries of short-term and working memory are followed by chapters on learning, the role of organization in memory, the ways in which our knowledge of the world is stored, retrieval, and on intentional and motivated forgetting. The latter half of the book involves the broader application of our basic understanding of memory, with chapters on autobiographical memory, amnesia, and on memory in childhood and aging. After chapters discussing eyewitness testimony and prospective memory, a final chapter addresses an issue of great importance to students - how to improve your memory. Each chapter of the book is written by one of the three authors, an approach which takes full advantage of their individual expertise, style and personality. This enhances students' enjoyment of the book, allowing them to share the authors' own fascination with human memory.

Everyday Memory edited by Svein Magnussen, Tore Helst (Psychology Press) During the academic year 2003-2004, an international group of cognitive psychologists was invited to the Centre of Advanced Study (CAS) at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters in Oslo. The editors of the present volume, whose proposal "Towards a comprehensive model of human memory" had been selected by CAS, organized the group. The groups may choose to proceed in terms of parallel individual projects, collaborate on a joint project, or a mixture of both. The memory group decided on the latter solution, and the present volume is the result of the joint effort.

It soon turned out, as it often does in the course of a project in progress, that the focus of the project changed from a "comprehensive model" to "everyday memory". Representing a broad range of research portfolios, a joint interest of the members of the group was the application of basic research to memory in everyday contexts, and precisely because of the range of interests, we decided that a volume written by the group might cover topics that are not usually covered by books on human memory. The present vol­ume was broadly conceived by the editors and planned in detail by the entire group in the initial workshops, during which the various chapters were assigned to author teams. In the final versions, a couple of the author teams recruited collaborators who originally were not associated with CAS (Chapters 2 and 7). Choices of themes, as well as chapter drafts, were dis­cussed in joint sessions. Thus, the present volume should be considered a shared responsibility of the group.

The book is written for the general reader of cognitive psych­ology and memory, a reader interested in how memory works in everyday situations, familiar with the basics of current psychology of cognition but not necessarily familiar with the technical details of the research. Yet, the book does not abstain from going into details when required or introducing new ideas and viewpoints. As a textbook it might be useful for courses targeting everyday memory and those discussing limits and applications of current memory research.

Excerpt: During the four decades that have passed since the "cognitive revolution" in psychology, research on human memory has grown extensively, and memory is by now one of the most intensively investigated areas in psychology, and perhaps in neuroscience in general. Cognitive psychology, joining forces with theoretically motivated patient studies of cognitive neuropsychology, and with the brain imaging of cognitive processes by PET and fMRI technology, has produced a wealth of knowledge about the organization of human mem­ory and the brain mechanisms involved in the encoding, storage and retrieval processes. This research is covered by most textbooks on memory and cogni­tive neuroscience, and will only be touched on in passing in the present volume. The focus of the present volume is on the more general aspects of memory that emanate from examinations of memory in everyday contexts. Thirty years ago, Neisser (1976, 1978) recommended that researchers focus on the relation between the theoretical and the practical questions in the cognitive explorations of memory. In the wake of Neisser's critique, there followed many efforts to examine issues of everyday memory scientifically. Examples of this line of research are studies of autobiographical memory, studies of the memory for past and prospective actions and events, and studies of the memory of witnesses to dramatic and mundane complex events. And grad­ually, the study of memory in everyday contexts changed from studying the quantity of memory performance — how much is remembered — to studying the quality of the memory performance and the distortions and errors contained in the memory reports. These themes will pop up in several places in this volume.

In planning the book, it soon became clear that the editors should not aim to cover all aspects of everyday memory, but rather to cover some aspects of everyday memory that are not covered by other texts, reflecting the research interests and expertise of this particular team of authors. We have selected memory domains where the members of the project group at the Centre of Advanced Study (CAS), at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters 2003-2004, have the research background required to match the questions of everyday memory with the corresponding laboratory research. The answers to a large-scale survey study, cited in Chapter 1, suggest a folk psychology of everyday memory. The chapters reviewing and discussing relevant everyday memory research demonstrate some overlap but also some disagreements between scientists and lay people. Where there is agreement, science may serve to explain why common sense is right; where there are disagreements, research may correct folk psychology.

The ideas we have and the ways we think about memory will guide us, not only in scientific research, but also in the choices and decisions we make in everyday life about the possibilities and limitations of development and change, in ourselves and in others. We know something about how memory researchers think about memory, but we know little about the ideas and opinions that people have in general. There are two ways of finding this out: We can ask people what they believe about memory or we can examine how people talk about memory. Chapter 1 does both, analysing first the memory metaphors of daily language and of science, and second, discussing the results of a large-scale public opinion poll carried out during the planning stage of this book. In this study, a representative sample of 1000 adult Norwegians were asked some of the questions about memory that memory researchers are frequently asked privately in social settings, and by the media. The three chapters closing the volume follow up the themes introduced by the opening chapter. Chapter 11 discusses meta-cognitive aspects of memory, the plan­ning and monitoring of learning, and memory challenges, controlled by our own conceptions of cognitive capacities and limitations. Chapter 12 reports the results of a study of the relationship between beliefs about the capacity of own memory performance and the actual memory performance on relevant memory tasks, measured in the ageing population, and Chapter 13 concludes the volume by introducing a new memory metaphor, the concept of memory pathways. The metaphor is based on the observation that episodic memories sometimes simply pop out, at times against one's will and wishes, while at other times they can be surprisingly hard, or even impossible, to get at, even when one knows that these memories are not lost.

Four chapters on types of memory and five chapters on individual and social factors in memory follow the opening chapter. Starting with some typical problems of cognition and memory in everyday life – reading assembly instructions supplied with flat-packs of furniture from a major Nordic furniture distributor – Chapter 2 discusses different ways of using visual information, examines different cognitive systems for processing such information, and looks specifically at visual aspects of memory and thinking. A similar approach is taken in Chapter 3, which, following a discussion of how people perceive and understand action events, goes on to examine research on memory for actions, in particular whether we remember actions in the same way that we remember visually or verbally presented information. Chapter 4 deals with an aspect of memory that has received little attention in cognitive psychology, olfactory memory, and discusses the possible usefulness of olfactory memory tests in forensic contexts, especially with children. The eyewitness angle is followed up in Chapter 5, which reviews research on the development of autobiographical memory and presents a new model of memory development.

Everyday memory episodes may be recorded privately or under social conditions, and retrieved privately or under social conditions. Social context factors may thus affect memory encoding as well as retrieval, and social factors may or may not be reflected in the content, quality and accuracy of episodic memory. Chapter 6 on collaborative memory examines the theoretical and practical implications of research on the episodic memory performances by dyads and small groups, guided by the question of whether we remember better or worse when tested with fellow eyewitnesses. Chapter 7 discusses how memory illusions and false memories may arise in everyday contexts under the influence of social factors.

It is a common observation that people like to reminisce about their common past, but there is little systematic research on the dynamics of this activity. Chapter 8 presents research based on a new questionnaire con­structed to measure proneness to reminiscence. Chapter 9 takes a different approach to individual differences in memory, discussing various conceptions of memory skill and different types of memory expertise, with examples from several areas that are usually not covered in treatments of expertise, such as visual learning, orienteering and speech reading. And what happens when memory fails? This is the topic of Chapter 10, which discusses different types of compensatory mechanisms, used by special populations of people who for various reasons have memory problems.

The authors of this volume come from six different countries; thus illus­trations of everyday memories could be drawn from and checked against different sociocultural and linguistic backgrounds. The illustrations cited were chosen to be representative of everyday situations we all are familiar with, but there is, in many of the chapters, a distinct Scandinavian-European leaning in the choice of illustrative examples – examples that might be novel for the general reader. That should not be a disadvantage.


Memory As a Moral Decision: The Role of Ethics in Organizational Culture by Steven P. Feldman (Transaction) The study of management and organization is not known for its remembrance of things past. In the structure of time‑that is, past­present-future-the past is generally forgotten. Managing the present and mastering the future receive the lion's share of attention. Objects of the past, like yesterday's technology or the stories of the old and retired, are relegated to the status of museum pieces. In the study of management and organization, of a piece with modern culture gener­ally, the chain of memory has been broken. Perhaps nowhere in man­agement has this resulted in more destructive loss than in the area of ethics. Without the thread of continuity between the past, present, and future, moral ideals have decayed; moral commitments have become vague and shallow.

Feldman addresses this loss in the field of management and organization studies by developing a theory of moral tradition. The theory of moral tradition is designed to investigate the historical and cultural context of moral commitment. It is based on the sociology of culture and the sociology of religion literature. It focuses on the relations between moral culture, the individual, and the past. He applies this framework to theories of organizational culture to investigate their moral assump­tions and moral implications, that is, to explicate and understand the moral life they imply. Theories of organizational culture, an increas­ingly important part of management and organization studies, are inti­mately related to ethics because they address the symbolic resources men/women use to create a working environment of cooperation, pur­pose, and, more or less, trust.

Theories of organizational culture, although developed over the past seventy years for different purposes by writers with different back­grounds and personalities, all turn their back on the past as a foundation for moral direction. From one side or another, they incorporate the central oppositions in modern culture‑for example, a hyper-secu­lar rationalism, or irrational reactions against it; the pursuit of individual well‑being, a concern to overcome excessive individualism; and a distrust of or wish to rebuild internal moral and cognitive con­trols. In a series of seven critical essays, I analyze the main theories of organizational culture to investigate the moral quality of modern cul­ture as it is found in. the field of management and organization studies. For each theory, Feldman identifies explicit and implicit moral assumptions, discuss their implications for society, organizations, and the individual, and provide a historical and cultural evaluation in terms of the theory of moral tradition.

The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers by Daniel L. Schacter (Houghton Mifflin) You've put your glasses down somewhere, and now you can't find them. That is the memory's sin of absent-mindedness. Schacter, chairman of the psychology department at Harvard University, cites that and six other sins of memory: transience, the weakening of memory over time; blocking, the inability to recall a familiar name or fact; misattribution, in which one assigns an item of memory to the wrong source; suggestibility, the implanting of memories through leading questions; bias, the unconscious reshaping of a memory under the influence of later events or opinions; and persistence, the repeated recall of disturbing information or events that one would prefer to forget. Do these aberrations serve a useful function? Yes, Schacter says, they protect against overload, helping the memory "to retain information that is most likely to be needed in the environment in which it operates." Editors of Scientific American

Daniel L. Schacter, chairman of Harvard University's Psychology Department and a leading expert on memory, has developed the Þrst framework that describes the basic memory miscues we all encounter. Just like the seven deadly sins, the seven memory sins appear routinely in everyday life. Although we may hate these difficulties, as Schacter notes, they're surprisingly vital to a keen mind.

Schacter, whose previous trade book, Searching for Memory, was called splendidly lucid (The New Yorker), offers vivid examples of the memory sins -- for example, the absent-mindedness that plagued both a national memory champion and a violinist who forgot that he had placed a priceless Stradivarius on top of his car before driving off. The author also delves into the recent research -- such as imaging that shows memories being formed in the brain -- that has led him to develop his framework. Together, the stories and the scientific findings examined in The Seven Sins of Memory provide a fascinating new look at our brains, and at what we more generally think of as our minds.

The Seven Sins of Memory is a groundbreaking work that will provide great reassurance to everyone, from twenty-somethings who find their lives are too busy, to baby boomers who mutter about early Alzheimer's, to senior citizens who worry about how much (or how little) they can recall.

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