Research Topic

Toward an Ecological Approach to Human Memory

About this Research Topic

Across the Psychological Sciences, memory is one of the most salient topics in the study of cognitive processes. What advancement for scientific understandings of memory has this longstanding research tradition on memory produced? Ulric Neisser, in a 1978 paper recapping a century of memory research, provocatively stated that: "If X is an interesting or socially important aspect of memory, then psychologists have hardly ever studied X". After 40 years, is Neisser’s premise still well-founded? Or have there been paradigmatic shifts in the study of memory? And what are currently the most pressing questions for the scientific study of memory in Cognitive Science? The primary aim of this Research Topic will be to answer these questions.

This Research Topic will primarily focus on, but is not restricted to, the following themes:

1. What is memory for? For this theme, we welcome articles on the adaptive value of memory and the main questions will be: How does memory influences goal directed behaviour, decision-making, planning, and prospection? The relationship between memory systems and temporality will also be the focus of this theme. We are particularly interested in studies concerning episodic and semantic future thinking capacities.

2. Memory for real or real-like events. This will focus on memory that is based on complex stimuli beyond the standard laboratory approach. Manuscripts may thus cover autobiographical memory or memory for complex salient stimuli (e.g., film, music, artworks). Studies that employ new digital technologies (e.g., virtual or augmented reality) are also welcome.

3. How advancement in memory understanding can respond to societal challenges? Here, we expect to receive articles dealing with the application of knowledge and research on memory in different domains, such as pedagogy, aging, psychological well-being.

4. The cognitive mechanisms underlying the production of memory distortions in normal subjects as well as in different types of pathologies.
5. Extended memory. This theme will mainly focus on how the digital revolution has reshaped the human memory system. E.g. Cognitive off-loading, cyber identity, shared memories are all potential topics in this theme.

We welcome cutting-edge research from a wide diversity of perspectives. Contributions from psychology, neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy and social sciences are equally welcome and interdisciplinary approaches are especially encouraged. All article types (original contribution, reviews, opinion articles) will be considered.


Keywords: Memory, Ecological Approach, Societal Challenges, Virtual Reality, Digital Technology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Across the Psychological Sciences, memory is one of the most salient topics in the study of cognitive processes. What advancement for scientific understandings of memory has this longstanding research tradition on memory produced? Ulric Neisser, in a 1978 paper recapping a century of memory research, provocatively stated that: "If X is an interesting or socially important aspect of memory, then psychologists have hardly ever studied X". After 40 years, is Neisser’s premise still well-founded? Or have there been paradigmatic shifts in the study of memory? And what are currently the most pressing questions for the scientific study of memory in Cognitive Science? The primary aim of this Research Topic will be to answer these questions.

This Research Topic will primarily focus on, but is not restricted to, the following themes:

1. What is memory for? For this theme, we welcome articles on the adaptive value of memory and the main questions will be: How does memory influences goal directed behaviour, decision-making, planning, and prospection? The relationship between memory systems and temporality will also be the focus of this theme. We are particularly interested in studies concerning episodic and semantic future thinking capacities.

2. Memory for real or real-like events. This will focus on memory that is based on complex stimuli beyond the standard laboratory approach. Manuscripts may thus cover autobiographical memory or memory for complex salient stimuli (e.g., film, music, artworks). Studies that employ new digital technologies (e.g., virtual or augmented reality) are also welcome.

3. How advancement in memory understanding can respond to societal challenges? Here, we expect to receive articles dealing with the application of knowledge and research on memory in different domains, such as pedagogy, aging, psychological well-being.

4. The cognitive mechanisms underlying the production of memory distortions in normal subjects as well as in different types of pathologies.
5. Extended memory. This theme will mainly focus on how the digital revolution has reshaped the human memory system. E.g. Cognitive off-loading, cyber identity, shared memories are all potential topics in this theme.

We welcome cutting-edge research from a wide diversity of perspectives. Contributions from psychology, neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy and social sciences are equally welcome and interdisciplinary approaches are especially encouraged. All article types (original contribution, reviews, opinion articles) will be considered.


Keywords: Memory, Ecological Approach, Societal Challenges, Virtual Reality, Digital Technology


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2018 Abstract
30 August 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2018 Abstract
30 August 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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