chapter  6
42 Pages

Primary Memory

This chapter demonstrates the historical continuity that flows through the analysis of serial organization in learning and memory. In the work of the British empiricists this continuity extends back beyond the beginnings of experimental psychology. In the work of Hermann Ebbinghaus, a focal interest in seriality marks exactly the beginnings of experimental psychology, a fusion of the enduring issues of association of ideas within philosophy with the methods of natural science. The domination of Ebbinghaus' authority was challenged only in the early 1960s, by a reopening of the question of just what became learned in serial learning. A diversification of pairwise-associative hypotheses was one result of this return to the search for a basic mechanism, including, most importantly, hypotheses based on chaining and based on associations with absolute or relative positional cues. Psychological research on memory for sentences can be understood in reference to changing fashions in linguistic and psycholinguistic theories of sentence production and comprehension.