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Proximate Mechanisms and the Development of Adaptive Memory

Howe, M. L. & Otgaar, H. (2013). Proximate Mechanisms and the Development of Adaptive Memory. Current Directions In Psychological Science, 22(1), pp. 16-22. doi: 10.1177/0963721412469397


The scientific study into the functional properties of memory has recently undergone a rapid increase. These studies reveal that processing stimuli for its survival value results in superior memory performance in children and adults. In the current article, we critically evaluate this claim and conclude that survival-processing advantages in childhood and adulthood are not an indication that fitness-relevant information has adaptive priority. Instead, we argue that general memory principles (e.g., item-specific and relational processing, self-reference, elaboration and distinctiveness) are more probative explanations of the functional engineering of memory. We stress the importance of these memory processes because these are the processes that comprise our memory adaptation, are present early in life, and are developmentally invariant.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Adaptive memory, Survival processing, elaboration, distinctiveness, item-specific processing, relational processing
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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