What is Priming and Why?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter suggests that most cognitive theories of memory are cast in a manner that does not satisfactorily posit both what repetition priming is and why it is that way. Often, theories are cast in terms of abstract entities that are more analogous to computer programming functions than to the functions of brain subsystems. In the abstract approach, theories concern broad functional concepts of the sort reflected by the typical organization of cognitive research topics in textbooks. Alternatively, theories can be cast in terms of neurocomputationally dissociable processing subsystems, the functions that they accomplish, their interactions, and the neurally plausible mechanisms that perform those functions and interactions. In this approach, theories can do more than organize past research findings and generate new questions; they can do so in a manner that highlights how the phenomena stem from independently derived properties and principles of how brains implement memory and how brain-like models simulate memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRethinking Implicit Memory
EditorsJ. S. Bowers
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780191670466, 9780192632326
StatePublished - Mar 22 2012


  • Brain function
  • Brain subsystems
  • Computer programming
  • Priming
  • Theories of memory


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