Ulric Neisser Is Dead at 83; Reshaped Study of the Mind 奈瑟尔享年83岁
作者: DOUGLAS MARTIN / 9288次阅读 时间: 2012年4月08日
来源: .nytimes 标签: Neisser 认知心理学
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Ulric Neisser Is Dead at 83; Reshaped Study of the Mind
6s"G s.p+w @,nI+l'K0By DOUGLAS MARTIN心理学空间i`jp'sYq
Published: February 25, 2012
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Ulric Neisser, a psychological researcher who helped lead a post war revolution in the study of the human mind by advancing the understanding of mental processes like perception and memory, died on Feb. 17 in Ithaca, N.Y. He was 83.心理学空间&p?@*jJ^f:j
2012,二月17日,伊萨卡
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6v(C)Y-` Y#i3U F;rS0The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, his son Mark said.心理学空间^9oz b/N0^!P
死于帕金森综合症
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j0[2_D'o0|'z+T0Advances in information theory, computers and experimental methods after World War II enabled scientists to challenge the dominant psychological discipline, behaviorism. Behaviorism examines stimuli to the senses and the resulting responses. In its purest permutation, it rejects the idea that the mind even exists.心理学空间$e x]|9i6d
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Dr. Neisser (pronounced NICE-er), who loved to challenge orthodoxy and devise theoretical frameworks, sought to prove that people could think and to describe how they did it. He even named the new field with the title of his 1967 book, “Cognitive Psychology.” It set forth ideas advanced by him and other scientists that internal mental processes not only mattered, but could also be studied and measured.心理学空间%nw Pa"g(a}5{4J
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“He galvanized this whole discipline,” James E. Cutting, chairman of the psychology department of Cornell University, said in an interview.心理学空间 c$t jWq \ J
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As computer technology advanced in the 1960s, students of the mind began to imagine it as an information processing system. Work in information theory, growing out of code-breaking operations in World War II, fed into the new discipline. So did new theories of linguistics that posited an innate structure to the mind.心理学空间G'yq1d l9Q%@-]

}-CI~\0X/Du0James R. Pomerantz, a psychology professor at Rice University, said in an interview that Dr. Neisser’s genius was to combine these new understandings in constructing a new view of the mind, much as a paleontologist assembles a dinosaur skeleton from scattered fossils. The result, Dr. Pomerantz said, was “a single coherent way of thinking how the mind works.”
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Dr. Neisser’s work showed that memory is a reconstruction of the past, not an accurate snapshot of it. He found that however much people think they are remembering actual events, they are really remembering memories — and probably memories of memories. The mind, he said, conflates things.
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In a much-publicized experiment the day after the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, Dr. Neisser asked students to write down their immediate experience upon hearing the news. Nearly three years later, he asked them to recount it. A quarter of the accounts were strikingly different, half were somewhat different, and less than a tenth had all the details correct. All were confident that their latter accounts were completely accurate.
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)TB)S*@f*r!c0Another memory experiment compared the testimony of John W. Dean III, the former aide to President Richard M. Nixon, during the Senate Watergate hearings with tapes of Mr. Dean’s conversations that the president had secretly recorded. He found discrepancies in detail after detail.心理学空间L-x Kq"F7? U
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But Dr. Neisser said the testimony was accurate about the most important truths: that there really had been a cover-up, and that Nixon did approve it.
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He also made observations about perception. In one experiment, he had participants watch groups throwing balls on a video screen. As they watched, a woman walked through the room carrying an open umbrella. Few remembered seeing her. Dr. Neisser called this phenomenon “selective looking”; other psychologists christened it “inattentional blindness.”心理学空间Px8cbDiz-O

#~*q(HnK`7uX7D%m0One result of this work on perception and memory was to cast doubt on accounts of remembered child abuse that swept the United States in the early 1980s. Dr. Neisser called into question the widely held view that extremely vivid memories cannot be false. He worked with the False Memory Syndrome Foundation and served on its board.
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In 1995, Dr. Neisser headed an American Psychological Association task force that examined research suggesting that intelligence varied among ethnic groups. The panel ended up questioning the tests themselves, or, in his phrase, the assumption that “there’s something wrong with children who score low on intelligence tests.”心理学空间F6O[$FF:z5r,V

6Z N6|{ JVT8D,`0“Once you make that assumption,” he said, “all your later theory and research suffers from a built-in bias. To ask what’s wrong with black children is to assume that something is the matter — to locate the problem in the mind of the child.”
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}x zM5mMX0Ulrich Gustav Neisser was born in Kiel, Germany, on Dec. 8, 1928, and his family immigrated to the United States in 1933. He later dropped the “h” in his first name to sound more American, he said. His boyhood friends called him Dickie, and he was later known as Dick. He grew up in Swarthmore, Pa.; Washington and New York. His father, Hans, a noted economist, expected him to be a scientist. The boy had a chemistry set he did not use.
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He went to Harvard and found psychology more interesting than physics. He was attracted to the Gestalt school of psychology, which takes a complex, holistic view of mental processes but lacks the scientific rigor of what became cognitive psychology. He even did some unsuccessful research on extrasensory perception, citing in an autobiographical statement “a soft spot in my heart for exciting but unlikely hypotheses.”
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4eo._"ac e0His contrariness extended to his own work. In 1976, he wrote “Cognition and Reality,” a book that challenged much of the field of cognitive psychology, arguing that it ignored the real world in favor of the laboratory.心理学空间3P+a)D)k8p8?

0a M4~*A]+A @0Dr. Neisser earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from Harvard, a master’s degree from Swarthmore College and a doctorate from Harvard. He went on to teach and do research at Brandeis, Cornell and Emory College.
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ta5R d7{!b%dJ0His marriage to Anna Gabrielle Peirce ended in divorce. His second wife, Arden Seidler, died before him. Besides his son Mark, he is survived by three other children from his first marriage, Philip, Tobias and Juliet Neisser; a son, Joseph, from his second marriage; a stepdaughter, Jennifer Seidler; a sister, Marianne Selph; and a grandson.心理学空间;~8Z`;Kg

b#zjuv0Dr. Neisser came to the realization that his own memory was as fragile as those of his research subjects. For years, he had said that he was listening to a baseball game on the radio when he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Finally, he said, it dawned on him that he could not have been listening to a baseball game in December.心理学空间 q9^x{Cx(ryH

X(A*IS mi7|0In a graduation speech at the New School for Social Research in 1998, Dr. Neisser asked how the graduates could be sure they remembered anything accurately. He told them they could not be sure. Then he struck a more hopeful note, adding: “This is a graduation, your graduation, or perhaps your son’s or your daughter’s; for that reason you are not likely to forget it. Everything is happening just as it should, just as you will remember it years from now.”
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