The idea that information is transferred from temporary to permanent storage is a pervasive one in memory research. However, in this article it is argued that the idea is unnecessary and misleading. Functions relating rehearsal time to subsequent memory performance take a variety of forms, depending first on the qualitative nature of the encoding processes carried out during rehearsal, and second on the compatibility of retrieval processes with the initial encoding. It is argued that memory is largely a function of depth and elaboration of the initial encoding, and that the memory deficits found in elderly people and under conditions of divided attention reflect impaired comprehension of the material. On the other hand, amnesic patients exhibit adequate comprehension yet poor memory, suggesting that some physiological process of consolidation may also be involved in normal learning and remembering.
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