Advances in science are often the result of methodological developments. This is also true in the field of memory research, where new methods, techniques, and approaches have led to the discovery of new facts and the formation of new theories. A clear example is the impact that the development of computers has had on cognitive science and a number of models of memory.
Although gerontology has had a long history, the lifespan-development approach has only become popular over the last few decades (Baltes, 1978). The lifespan-development approach regards the lifespan as a continuum, a complete entity, rather than as simply the sum of a series of separate, distinct life periods. Research into child psychology has been conducted for many years. However, much of this research has failed to recognize childhood as a period within the whole lifespan, for the prevailing approach has been to view children merely within childhood.
Although a central concern of memory research is to identify and explain the general mechanisms underlying memory, the vast majority of studies use young adults or university students as subjects. However, to be meaningful at all, these general mechanisms must be understood across the whole lifespan. This research, therefore, should not limit itself to only young adults, but must involve subjects of all ages. Thus, even when researching child memory or adult memory, it is important to approach memory with a lifespan-development perspective, which I shall describe in more detail later.
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