Memory Systems, Processing Modes, and Components: Functional Neuroimaging Evidence.
In the 1980s and 1990s, there was a major theoretical debate in the memory domain regarding the multiple memory systems and processing modes frameworks. The components of processing framework argued for a middle ground: Instead of neatly divided memory systems or processing modes, this framework proposed the existence of numerous processing components that are recruited in different combinations by memory tasks and yield complex patterns of associations and dissociations. Because behavioral evidence was not sufficient to decide among these three frameworks, the debate was largely abandoned. However, functional neuroimaging evidence accumulated during the last two decades resolves the stalemate, because this evidence is more consistent with the components framework than with the other two frameworks. For example, functional neuroimaging evidence shows that brain regions attributed to one memory system can contribute to tasks associated with other memory systems and that brain regions attributed to the same processing mode (perceptual or conceptual) can be dissociated from each other. Functional neuroimaging evidence suggests that memory processes are supported by transient interactions between a few regions called process-specific alliances. These conceptual developments are an example of how functional neuroimaging can contribute to theoretical debates in cognitive psychology.
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