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Psychology General


An Activity of Mind and Brain

by (author) Fergus Craik

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Jun 2021
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2021
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Memory is typically thought of as a set of neural representations - 'memory traces' - that must be found and reactivated in order to be experienced. It is often suggested that 'memory traces' are represented by a hierarchically organized system of analyzers, modified, sharpened and differentiated by encounters with successive events.

Remembering: An activity of mind and brain is the magnum opus of one of the leading figures in the psychology of memory. It sets out Fergus Craik's current view of human memory as a dynamic activity of mind and brain. The author argues that remembering should be understood as a system of active cognitive processes, similar to (perhaps identical to) the processes underlying attending, perceiving and thinking. Thus, encoding processes are essentially viewed as the mental activities involved in perceiving and understanding, and retrieval is described as the partial reactivation of these same processes. This account proposes that episodic and semantic memory should be thought of as levels in a continuum of specificity rather than as separate systems of memory.

In addition, the book presents Craik's views on working memory and on age-related memory impairments. In the latter case the losses are attributed largely to a difficulty with the self-initiation of appropriate encoding and retrieval operations compensated, when needed, by support from the external environment. The development of these ideas is discussed throughout the book and illustrated substantially by experiments from the author's lab, but also by empirical and theoretical contributions from other researchers.

A broad account of current ideas and findings in contemporary memory research, but viewed from the author's personal theoretical standpoint, Remembering: An activity of mind and brain will be essential for researchers, graduate and postdoctoral students working in the field of human memory.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Fergus Craik obtained his B.Sc. from the University of Edinburgh in 1960, and his PhD in psychology from the University of Liverpool in 1965. He was on the faculty of Birkbeck College, University of London from 1965 - 1971 before moving to the University of Toronto in 1971, where he was a faculty member until he retired in 2000. He chaired the Department of Psychology at Toronto from 1985 - 1990 and was appointed University Professor in 1997. He has been associated with the Rotman Research Institute of Baycrest in Toronto since 1988, and was appointed Senior Scientist at that Institute in 2000; he retired from the Institute in 2018. Craik's research work involves the experimental study of human memory processes; other interests are cognitive aging, and the effects of bilingualism on cognitive functions in health and disease. Craik held the Glassman Chair in Neuropsychology and Aging from 1996 - 2000; he has received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Bordeaux, Saarland and Edinburgh.