chapter  6
24 Pages

Learning and Memory: Classical Mnemonic Systems

Our discussion of memory and learning begins with a review of mnemonic techniques in which mental imagery played a central role. The treatment is mainly historical and nonempirical but nevertheless relevant because the assumptions on which the mnemonic systems were founded bear directly on important theoretical issues concerning memory. Those assumptions in effect constitute hypotheses about the mechanisms of memory and associative learning. Some of these will be recognized as having obvious counterparts in contemporary theories and as such they have been frequently subjected to experimental study. Other assumptions, while familiar, do not appear in such theories and their implications have only recently begun to be tested, perhaps because they are only now being recognized. Some of the main issues and relevant empirical evidence have been reviewed relatively briefly elsewhere (Paivio, 1969). The present chapter presents a more detailed and extended introduction to the topic, relating insights inherent in the mnemonic systems to contemporary theoretical notions. Subsequent chapters deal with empirical evidence bearing on the issues.