Emeritus professor shares research on memory

By Gus Bode

Tenth annual lecture series begins tonight

Robert Radtke will present “Implicit memory:Knowing but not remembering,” Tuesday at the Law School Auditorium as part of the Emeritus Faculty Association’s annual lecture series.

Radtke, who was a psychology professor at the University for 33 years and retired in 1999, said the lecture would focus on implicit memory, sometimes referred to as memory without awareness or automatic memory.


“Part of my research was investigating that kind of memory without awareness, how it works, how it differs from the memory that we’re conscious of, we’re aware of, and why it is that we’re not aware of it,” Radtke said.

Implicit memory is remembering something without being aware you are remembering it.

“There’s cases of brain damage, for example, where the people can learn various tasks, but they never remember having done it, so there’s no conscious memory of having done it,” Radtke said.

Radtke said he began conducting research on this topic in the 1990s and has explored many different aspects of memory. He said he researched memory for more than 10 years and would still be working on it had he not retired.

John Pohlmann, chair of the association, said memory is crucial to our lives, and senior citizens tend to be very concerned about the issue.

“One of the worst things that can happen when you get old is Alzheimer’s,” Pohlmann said. “Your life basically falls apart.”

Pohlmann said the Emeritus Faculty Association lecture series is meant to illustrate how retired faculty members continue to do research and public speaking after they have retired.


“The people selected to speak are known to be very expert people in their fields – good speakers with a good academic reputation,” Pohlmann said.

Pohlmann said Radtke was not only a very intelligent professor but continues to contribute to his community.

“Bob is just a wonderful member of the community,” Pohlmann said. “He contributes a lot of his time and energy in community work. All the members of this community are just fortunate to have somebody like Bob with us.”

Radtke said he is flattered to be a part of the lecture series and thinks people of all ages should be interested in memory and how it works.

“I consider it a real honor,” Radtke said. “It’s a recognition of the work I’ve done. It informs the University community about the kind of research that’s going on within the University.”