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Current Research/future Developments

As in many other fields of psychology, research into underlying biological (physiological, genetic, hormonal) factors in mental phenomena is thriving. Studies concluded in the early and mid-1990s clearly show learning/memory mechanisms occur at synaptic connections—the site of information transfer between neurons. Dozens of different mutant learning/memory genes have already been identified which specifically block learning and/or short-term, amnesia-resistant, and long-term memory. Further studies will surely help uncover intricate mechanisms at the cellular and molecular level involved in learning and memory. Continual advances since the 1970s in brain-imaging techniques that allow non-intrusive visualization of the brain at work have contributed immensely to this area of research. Improvement in brain imaging techniques such as computed tomography, positron emission tomography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), development of new techniques, and neurobiological and genetic research will undoubtedly lead to exciting discoveries about the basis of memory and other mental functions in the brain.



Gregg, V.H. Introduction to Human Memory. New York: Routledge, 1986.

Lutz, J. Introduction to Learning and Memory. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks-Cole, 1994.

McGaugh, J.L., N.M. Weinberger, and G. Lynch, eds. Brain Organization and Memory: Cells, Systems and Circuits. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Morris, P.E., and M.E. Conway, eds. The Psychology of Memory. Vols. 1-3. New York: New York University Press, 1993.

Marie Doorey



—A philosophical/psychological stance holding that mental associations are the building blocks of complex mental processes such as language and memory.

Brain imaging techniques

—High technology techniques allowing non-intrusive visualization of the brain, these include computed tomography, positron emission tomography, and functional magnetic resonance imaging.


—A set of objects, experiences, or ideas, grouped together because of their similarity, they aid the organization of information in memory.

Episodic memory

—Memory system holding conscious recollections of events from a person's life that often include time, place, and a representation of oneself.

Long-term memory

—Part of memory system capable of holding large amounts of information for an indefinite period of time, possibly for a lifetime.


—All of the information retained by an individual, and the mental systems and processes involved in storing and recalling information.


—Nerve cell.

Procedural memory

—Memory system holding often hard to articulate knowledge of how to perform certain procedures or activities.

Reconstructive memory

—Type of memory thought to store experiences by abstract principles, which are then used to reconstruct memories during recall.


—A structured framework of world knowledge that helps organize and interpret new information, as well as reconstruct information that may have been forgotten.

Semantic memory

—Memory system holding all the easily articulated knowledge of the world an individual has that does not refer to particular events in their life.

Sensory memory

—Part of the memory system that registers experience through the senses, holding onto information for one to two seconds before it is lost or transferred to short-term memory.

Short-term memory

—Part of the memory system that repeats and organizes information to aid its storage in long-term memory, it is able to hold only limited amounts of information for short periods of time before it is either lost, or transferred to long-term memory.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Mathematics to Methanal trimerMemory - History, Theories Of Basic Memory Processes, Models Of Memory Operation, Three Information Processing Systems - Divisions of long-yerm memory