Headed records: A model for memory and its failures

Cognition 20 (1):1-23 (1985)
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It is proposed that our memory is made up of individual, unconnected Records, to each of which is attached a Heading. Retrieval of a Record can only be accomplished by addressing the attached Heading, the contents of which cannot itself be retrieved. Each Heading is made up of a mixture of content in more or less literal form and context, the latter including specification of environment and of internal states (e.g. drug states and mood). This view of memory allows an easy account of a number of natural memory phenomena as well as a variety of laboratory findings such as the differences between recall and recognition. The theory further proposes that Headed Records can neither be deleted nor modified. Data apparently against such a hypothesis can be accounted for in terms of the retrieval process.

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John Morton
University College London


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