What is memory for? Why does it work the way it works? Evolutionary Psychology suggests that human cognition (eg, memory, attention, perception) – like the 'physical' part of the organism – evolved over time, in response to selective pressures (natural selection). Thus, cognition will have become more sensitive to information that would increase the chances of reproduction and survival of human beings (eg, looking for a sexual partner, avoiding diseases), compared to information that is not relevant in such circumstances. In this lecture, we will explore the functioning of memory from an evolutionary perspective (adaptive memory), as well as some adaptive memory phenomena. Finally, we will present some applications of these mnesic sensitivities, for example, in improving our everyday mnesic performance, and in interventions in educational and clinical contexts.
University of Aveiro and William James Center for Research
Department of Psychology, University of London, UK