The term reference memory was originally introduced by Werner K. Honig (1978). He defined reference memory as long-term memory for associations between two or more stimuli or between responses and the stimuli that follow them. Reference memories were often formed by repeated trials using the same stimuli and ending in reinforcement. Thus, memory for a path through a maze or for a conditioned habit, behaviors long studied by comparative psychologists, were forms of reference memory. Reference memory was distinguished from working memory, memory for events that occurred once on a single trial and had to be remembered only for the duration of the trial.
In a highly cited article, Olton and Papas (1979) showed that both reference and working memory could be studied on the radial maze. Using a 17-arm maze, eight of the arms contained food on every trial, but the remaining nine arms were always empty. The rat’s task was to enter all the baited arms and avoid entering the empty arms....
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