chapter  10
11 Pages

The “what” and “where” of event memory: Independence and interactivity within the medial temporal lobe

WithT.J. Bussey and J.P. Aggleton

Memory has often been described by the use of metaphor, many early examples of which seem amusing to contemporary psychologists. Plato, for example, referred to memory as an aviary, the act of remembering corresponding to the capture of one of the resident birds (and the act of forgetting corresponding to the capture of the wrong bird). Both Plato and Aristotle likened memory to a cube of wax upon which various impressions could be made and stored for posterity. And both William James and Sigmund Freud conceived of memory as a house, with specific memories likened to objects in the house (for discussion of these and other metaphors of memory, see Roediger, 1980). But whatever the metaphor of choice, these early conceptions of memory envisaged an entity or process that is single, unitary, and indivisible. Arguably the most important single discovery in the modern era of memory research, therefore, was that memory cannot be regarded as a unitary entity or process; rather, there appear to be different kinds of memory, and these different kinds of memory are mediated by anatomically distinct regions of the brain. Much research has been directed at attempting to characterise these different divisions of memory, resulting in a variety of mnemonic taxonomies usually taking the form of a dichotomy, for example, long-versus short-term memory, implicit versus explicit memory, or declarative versus procedural memory.