Attempts to understand human memory have been made for at least 2000 years. In his essay ‘On the Soul’ Aristotle compared memory to making impressions in wax. This was referred to as ‘the storehouse metaphor’, a theory of memory that dominated for centuries. The first empirical approach to the study of memory is reported to have been carried out in the mid-1880s by the German philosopher Ebbinghaus, who published his findings in ‘Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology’ (Ebbinghaus, 1913).
Cognitive psychology replaced behaviourism and psychoanalysis during the 1950s and ‘60s. More recent concepts of memory are based on evidence from theoretical research supported by experimental evidence, as well as from neuropsychological research into focal brain lesions (Mastin, 2010).