Introductions: Assignment B - Research/Review

Research Concepts in Memory

tl;dr: Research a facet of memory and document your discoveries. Explore memory to uncover and research an idea, feature, phenomeon or quirk of memory. Document and report your findings to the class and reflect on their implication for what and how we'll make.

Learning Objectives

As part of the exercise, students will:

  • build familiarity with memory and how it intersects with technology;
  • explore the notion of memory broadly by documenting it’s features and functions;
  • identify and review concepts that relate to the course and that can inform our work;
  • helped co-create a body of knowledge on memory to draw on as part of their own explorations;
  • reflect on how technology and memory are and will overlap and the challenges we should consider.


Research a theory, concept, feature, quirk, or phenomenon relating to memory that’s relevant to this coruse and report it to the group.

They should be ideas that you haven’t encountered before, are relevant to the course and you find particularly interesting or exciting. The emphasis here is on discovery. Writing about concept you already know intimately defeats the point of the assignment, which is to deepen your familiarity with the field.

There are many interesting aspects to memory. This is your chance to explore one or more of them in a little depth. What you choose to explore is entirely up to you. You can interpret memory as broadly as you like and you can approach this exercise in multiple ways. You might for example,

  • investigate foundational concepts and theories about memory
  • investigate a feature/quirk of memory like Flashbulb memory - the phenomenon where some memories can be recalled in vivid detail because of their significance, consolidation - the process that maintains, strengthen and modify memories in the long-term memory , or earworms - why we get songs stuck in our head;
  • an experiment/method that has lead to ways to understand, test and evaluate memory (and how they work) like CRAM used to test recollections of past episodes (or Brewer’s original beeper study that inspired it)
  • investigate a question you find interesting about memory like ‘why do we forget some things and remember others’? or ‘what would it be like to remember everything’, ‘what can trigger a memory?’, or ‘why do we get nostalgic?’

Regardless of your approach. You should:

  • Read and review articles, papers, and other sources i.e. do good research!
  • Inquire into new areas.
  • Be rigorous and systematic; and
  • document your findings as you go.

Then, share your discoveries with the group by reporting your findings in a 1-page summary incl. sources.

A starting point: This article on brainpickings is a good starting point to prime you on the basics of how memory works and the Guardian maintains a section of interesting and though-provoking articles on neuroscience, psychology and memory that might help point you in interesting directions.

Reflection on your findings

Reflect on the outcomes of your research.

  • What are interesting theories, technologies or territories for us to explore?
  • What are the challenges or opportunities that lie in the concepts and examples you’ve surfaced?

Come up with a series of questions and problem statements related to the idea of creating prosthetic technologies for human memory, capturing and representing experiences digitially, or networking, connecting or distributing memories.


The following are deliverables and will be presented and discussed in class:

  • A 1-page document summarising research on memory

  • A (small) set of questions and/or problem statements.

Submitting your work:

Share your research outcomes and questions to slack as a new Post to the #discoveries channel on slack.

The memory research should be a 1-page document (a Post, PDF, word doc, google doc are all acceptable)

The document should include a list of well formatted sources at the end of the document (including links to the original source) and should be illustrated.

Resources and Sources

Brewer WF (1988) Memory of randomly sampled autobiographical events. In: Neisser U, Winograd E, editors. Remembering reconsidered: Ecological and traditional approaches to the study of memory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp 21–89.

See Library Section of course Website.