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Differences in Learning and Memory

            Learning is defined as the acquisition of knowledge. Every person has the capacity to learn, but every person is a unique organism. How then can each unique organism acquire knowledge? It is the manner in which DNA combines with physical build, environment and experience that causes every person to react to similar situations in different manners (Terry, 2009). While science has determined that age, gender, personality and culture all have an effect on learning and memory. This paper will look at the variables affecting individual differences in learning and memory.
             In a study written in 1925, Margaret Kincaid questioned whether differences in achievement were based on individual nature or environmental opportunities and advantages (Kincaid, 1925). She suggested that giving equal practice to group members who displayed differing degrees of accomplishment to diminish differences. The basic results of her experiments indicated that differences decreased with practice (Kincaid, 1925). Later that same year a discussion of Kincaid's study pointed out several flaws and inconsistencies. In his article G.D. Stoddard pointed out that Kincaid's results could not be applied to all forms of learning. He states that of the best known learning experiments, "probably none of them can be accepted at face value" (Stoddard, 1925). Specifically the results cannot be applied to higher learning. If repetition alone cannot have an effect on learning clearly we need to look at other areas that affect learning and memory.
             Experimental studies have been conducted to measure learning and memory over lifetime. Classical conditioning and habituation has been used to study age-related changes. Conditioning has demonstrated that the very young and very old condition less well than the age groups in between (Terry, 2009). For the purposes of this paper the following age groups are defined: Adulthood (18-39), Middle Age (40-64), and Older (65 & older).

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