Basic Cognitive and Mnemonic Processes
At the heart of the mnemonological approach is the assumption that successful mnemonic techniques tap important basic memory processes, and in that sense, the artificial memory of mnemonics and the natural memory of basic cognitive processes are inherently symbiotic. However obvious this assumption may be, explicit recognition of this relationship between mnemonics and basic processes is important for three reasons. Most important, the mnemonological approach makes explicit that understanding basic memory processes allows for creative development of mnemonic devices, and likewise, any particular mnemonic that has demonstrable effectiveness offers a window into the basic processes. In that sense, basic research and its application have a healthy symbiotic relationship. A less tangible asset of the mnemonological approach is the possible elimination of the tension between natural and artificial learning and memory. Everything relies on the natural memory processes, including the artificial techniques, and for that reason these techniques logically are not artificial. In this chapter, we first discuss basic cognitive processes, which we shall see are identifiable in established mnemonic devices. We then go on to identify additional processes that are common to many mnemonic techniques, indicating that these processes are also potentially important targets for basic memory theory.