Name processing model and so on. This

of the experiment

Adaptive memory; to
study that memory systems have evolved to help retain information related to

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Memory is one of
the intriguing topics to study in cognitive psychology; it is something we rely
on for our daily activities i.e. we use memory remember/recollect information
relevant to our day to day activities.

Whereas there
are traditional approaches to study memory by conducting researches on the
framework of levels of processing model and so on. This study has tried to
investigate factors of memory from an evolutionary point of view. According to
the adaptive memory concept, memory systems are tuned to retain information
having survival fitness value. A crucial feature of adaptive memory is that the
notion memory has evolved (over the period of time) to increase survival by
better retaining information having fitness value. In the recent years, James S
Nairne-et-al. research on adaptive memory has interested a lot of other
researchers of evolutionary psychology to study this topic. Nairne and
colleagues conducted a series of experiment to test the phenomenon of adaptive


Central to the school
of thought in human memory research is the assumption that human memory systems
are functionally designed and like other biological systems, memory is likely
evolved to enhance fitness (survival and reproduction). Thinking about the relevance of information to
survival situation produces excellent long-term retention. A few seconds of
survival processing produces better free recall than virtually all other known
memory-enhancement techniques. Memory is essential to adaptive behavior because it
allows past experience to guide choices. 


In the
experiment conducted by Narine-et-al., participants are asked to imagine that
they’re a part of a small tribe living in grassland of a foreign land. They’re
asked to gather or hunt food items in order to help their and their tribes’ survival.
Next a list of words are presented, and participants are asked to rate the
relevance of each word to the imagined scenario. In a later surprise memory
test, participants typically remember the words rated for relevance to this
fitness-relevant scenario better than they remember words that are not fitness
relevant (to the scenario).

This can be explained through the theory of natural
selection. Human memory is evolved because it enhanced survival and fitness in
environments that were present during the extended period of human evolution. Anderson & Schooler (1991, 2000) suggested that
certain mnemonic characteristics, such as the general form of the retention
function, mimic the way events tend to occur and recur in the environment.
It has been suggested that
sex differences in spatial abilities, including memory for object locations,
may have an evolutionary basis. Silverman & Eals (1992) suggested that the
division of labour typically found in hunter-gatherer societies-men hunt and
women gather-may have led to unique foraging-related cognitive specializations
of the sexes. Men generally outperform women on tasks thought to be
related to hunting skills (e.g. navigation and orientation), whereas women
often show an advantage on tasks requiring memory for objects stored in fixed

The experiment
conducted is based on the study done by Narine-et-al. (2009), here the
participants are randomly divided into three groups; hunter, gatherer and
scavenger. Participants in the experiments were asked to rate the relevance of
words to scenarios that were specifically designed to mimic prototypical
hunting and gathering activities. Following the rating task, participants
received a surprise recall test on the rated words. Participants always rated
the relevance of the target words to hunting or to gathering food, but under
conditions that were either fitness relevant or not. The purpose of this study
was to learn whether or not memory systems have evolved to better retain
information related to fitness-survival value.

According to past studies
(Narine, Klein, Cosmides, Tooby & Chance,2002) suggest that human memory
systems are “tuned” to remember information that is processed in terms of
fitness value. Hence it is predicted that when a person is asked to rate the
relevance of words to a survival scenario the performance is better on recall