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Essay on Autobiographical Memory

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Autobiographical Memory


`Memory` is a label for a diverse set of cognitive capacities by which humans and perhaps other animals retain information and reconstruct past experiences, usually for present purposes. Autobiographical memory is a complex and multiply determined skill, consisting of neurological, social, cognitive, and linguistic components. At most beasic level, autobiographical memories refer to personally experienced past events. Over the past decade the research into autobiographical memory has led to an account of human memory in which personal goals play a major role in the formationk, access and contruction of specific memories Episodic memory is reconceived as a memory system that retains highly detailed sensory perceptual knowledge of recent experience over retention intervals measured in minutes and hours. Episodic knowledge has yet to be integrated with the autobiographical memory knowledge base and so takes as its referent the immediate past of the experiencing self or the `I`. When recalled it can be accessed independently of content and is recollectively experienced. Autobiographical memory, in contrast, retains knowledge over retention intervals measured in weeks, months, years, decades and across the life span. Autobiographical knowledge represents the experienced self, or the `me`, is always accessed by its content and, when accessed, does not necessarily give rise to recollective experience. Instead, recollective experience occurs when autobiographical knowledge retains access to associated episodic memories.

     Autobiographical memory in simplest terms can be described as memory for events and issues related to yourself and includes memories for specific experiences and for the personal facts of one`s life. Neisser , a psychologist who specialised in memory, defined autobiographical memory in the following way:½If the remebered event seems to have played a significant part in the life of the rememberer, it becomes an example of autobiographical memory and may form part of s life narrative.½ The three major characteristics of autobiographical memory are: long term recollection of general features of an event, interpretations of an event, and some racall of a few specific details of an event. Autobiographical memory contains the information you have about yourself. There are three different types of autobiographical memor...


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...ding and retrieval. It also importan to say that in spite of the important differences between episodic and semantic memory there are also important similarities in Wheeler`s view: ½The manner in which information is registered i the episodic and semantic systems is highly simillar –there is no known method of readily encoding information into an adult`s semantic memory without putting corresponding information in episodic memory or vice versa....both episodic and semantic memory obey the principles of encoding specificity and transfer appropriate processing½ . Episodic memory posseses a sense of conscious recollection of the past that semantic memory does not posses. The way in which information is registered in episodic and semantic memory is very similar. Autobiographical memory is very interesting and important when looking at eyewitness testimony. It is reasonably accurate but does contain errors.

Works Cited:

1.Michael W. Eysenck and Mark T. Keane, Cognitive Psychology, 4th edition , first published 2000 by Psychology Press

2.Tulving , E. 1972 Episodic and semantic memory. In Organization of memory (ed. E.Tulving & W Donaldson), pp.382-403. New York:Academic Press


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