An Experiment in Memory and Knowledge

When I was at Yale in the late 1970s, the students in my laboratory built a number of simulations which attempted to lay out some of the processes and knowledge structures people use in understanding the world. One of the central insights we reached through these experiments was that the warehouse view of memory is wrong. Instead of being a place where knowledge structures are stored when they are not in use, we found that the structures that memory contains must be processing structures as well as knowledge structures. That is, the very knowledge that was stored away in memory helped to process new situations. Or, to put this another way, the intelligence that helps us understand the world is the very same stuff we have been remembering about the world all our lives. Memory mechanisms and information processing mechanisms have to be exactly the same stuff in order to work the way they do.

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