Discuss the extent to which research on atypical memory function can help our understanding of how memory works.

Memory is a process which plays a fundamental role in many different levels of human behaviour, from daily activities to cognitive abilities such as language and learning. Extensive psychological research has provided a thorough insight into the structures, processes and skills involved in memory function. Various methods of research provide evidence that shows memory can operate different to normal memory which is known as atypical. Normal functioning memory tends to be reconstructive i.e. knowledge, strategies, intentions, and context. Atypical memory displays a diversity in memory functioning which distinguishes from normal memory functioning due to impairments, significant memory deficits, and individuals with exceptional memory skills Brace and Roth (2007).   This essay shall outline some of the key process skills involved with memory function, also highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of the methods used to analyse atypical memory with reference to evaluating the extent in which research can aid an understanding of how memory works. Neurophysiological impairments and double dissociation studies seem to be most enlightening, but do also pose limitations.

Memory consists of three main processes: Encoding which is where new information from the senses is coded, storage where information is retained into the memory storage system and retrieval which is recovery of information from the storage system. Retrieval includes both recall and recognition recall as in remembering a phone number from your memory bank for example or recognition by remembering a person’s face perhaps. These processes coexist and work together to create our memory Brace and Roth (2007).
Key subsystems in memory include; Sensory memory (SM) holds encoded for a few seconds. Short term memory (STM) a few seconds or minute’s long and long term memory (LTM) long term...