chapter  4
28 Pages

Forgetting in memory models: Arguments against trace decay and consolidation failure


The chapters in this volume all reference causes of forgetting, but the variety of possible causes (and continued lack of consensus regarding them in different strands of the literature) is striking. Here we examine insights into trace decay, interference, and consolidation that have emerged from recent computational and mathematical models of memory. We suggest that such models: (1) allow rejection of temporal decay as a primary cause of forgetting even in short-term memory tasks; (2) undermine the inference from forgetting data to a distinction between separate short-term and long-term memory systems (STS vs. LTS); (3) offer an alternative explanation, in terms of temporal distinctiveness and interference, for most if not all of the behavioural evidence that has previously been taken as evidence for consolidation.