Models of human memory and their implications for research on aging and psychopathology

Dev Psychopathol. 1998 Fall;10(4):607-24. doi: 10.1017/s0954579498001783.


Because nearly all human behavior depends to some degree on functioning of the memory system, progress in understanding the diverse psychopathological effects of trauma must be expected to reflect the state of research and theory on human memory. An informal survey of literature on research in psychopathology reveals increasing attention to processes of memory and cognition but an absence of citations of the models of memory that subsume research results and mediate their applications. In this article, a series of steps is taken with the aim of redressing this situation. The first is an overview of contemporary models of memory. From these a set of widely supported assumptions about basic processes and structures is abstracted to form a composite model, which is illustrated in application to several major research paradigms. Finally, consideration is given to implications of the composite model for effects of psychopathological trauma and for some aspects of the maturation and decline of memory functions throughout the life span.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / psychology*
  • Cognition*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*