Modern research into human memory can be traced back to the introspectionist psychologists, in particular William James ( James, 1890). In his writings, James proposed a simple but essential insight about the nature of memory. He noted that the act of being conscious is itself an act of memory, because being aware of the present is actually being aware across a certain amount of time. If consciousness were not time based, we would be unable to appreciate that a set of notes comprised a tune or integrate the fi rst and second parts of a sentence. James described this form of memory as primary memory and its association with the contents of consciousness led him to propose that information in primary memory could be retrieved with little effort because, in effect, it was still part of what we call the ‘present moment’. James contrasted primary memory with secondary memory which was viewed as the ‘genuine past’ and, as a result, required some degree of effort for information stored there to be retrieved.