Humans Have Astonishing Memories, Study Finds
By Clara Moskowitz | livescience.com
If human memory were truly digital, it would have just received an upgrade from something like the capacity of a floppy disk to that of a flash drive. A new study found the brain can remember a lot more than previously believed.
In a recent experiment, people who viewed pictures of thousands of objects over five hours were able to remember astonishing details afterward about most of the objects.
Though previous studies have never measured such astounding feats of memory, it may be simply because no one really tried.
"People had never tested whether people could remember this much detail about this many objects," said researcher Timothy Brady, a cognitive neuroscientist at MIT. "Nobody actually pushed it this far."
When they did push the human brain to its limits, the scientists found that under the right circumstances, it can store minute visual details far beyond what had been imagined.
Those circumstances include looking at images of objects that are familiar, such as remote controls, dollar bills and loaves of bread, as opposed to abstract artworks.
Another factor that seemed to help was motivation to do well: The participant who scored highest won a small prize of money (the researchers refused to say exactly how much).
"You have to try," said MIT co-author Talia Konkle. "You have to want to do it."
The study, funded by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, and a National Research Service Award, was detailed in the Sept. 8 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In the experiment, 14 people ranging from age 18 to 40 viewed nearly 3,000 images, one at a time, for three seconds each. Afterwards, they were shown pairs of images and asked to select the exact image they had seen earlier.
The test pairs fell into three categories: two completely different objects, an object and a different example of the same type of object (such as two different remote controls), and an object along with a slightly altered version of the same object (such as a cup full and another cup half-full).
Stunningly, participants on average chose the correct image 92 percent, 88 percent and 87 percent of the time, in each of the three pairing categories respectively. Though 14 subjects may not sound like a huge sample, the fact that they each recalled the objects with very similar rates of success suggests the results are not a fluke.
"To give just one example, this means that after having seen thousands of objects, subjects didn’t just remember which cabinet they had seen, but also that the cabinet door was slightly open," Brady said.
Even the researchers didn't expect quite such high recall rates.
"We had the intuition that it might be possible, but we were surprised by the magnitude of the effect," said study leader Aude Oliva, also of MIT. "These numbers, higher than 85 and 90 percent, impressed us and also impressed a lot of people who heard about the work."
So now that we know the brain's memory is so fantastic, are we all out of excuses for forgetting friends' birthdays?
Luckily not, Brady said.
"To some extent it's about attention, actively encoding specific details into memory," he told LiveScience. "If we tried really hard we actually could remember when someone's birthday was: if you say to yourself, 'The birthday is on this day and that relates to these other things that I remember.'"
Basically, he said, we can remember most things we put our minds to, if we invest enough attention and effort into trying to store them in the first place.
Article from: http://www.livescience.com/health/
Deep DNA memory theories: Can we remember our ancestors’ lives?
Repressed Memory - A Cultural Symptom?
Philip K. Dick’s Phylogenic Memory and the Divine Fire
Latest News from our Front Page
The Viking ”Maine Penny” Mystery
In 1957, during his second year of digging at the Goddard site; a large prehistoric Indian trade village in Penobscot Bay on the central Maine coast, local resident and amateur archaeologist Guy Mellgren found a small silver coin. The coin is later identified by experts as a Norse silver penny dating to the reign of Olaf Kyrre, king of Norway ...
The Sagas of the (Viking) Icelanders Shed Light on Golden Age
The Sagas of the Icelanders have long been preserved as the most comprehensive specimen of the literary culture of the 13th and 14th centuries of Iceland. In writing these sagas, many attributes of the 10th and 11th centuries were conserved, particularly individual biographies, the history of family feuds, and the overall evolution of the one of the greatest settlements ...
Benjamin Netanyahu's Full Speech to Congress
Here is the full speech of Pathological Zionist Liar Benjamin Netanyahu to the United States Congress.
"And the Oscar goes too ...."
Description from YouTube: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel used one of the most prominent platforms in the world on Tuesday to warn against what he called a “bad deal” being negotiated with Iran to freeze its nuclear program, bringing ...
The FDA Admits That Prior to 2011 Over 70% of U.S. Chickens Contained Cancer-Causing Arsenic
Prior to 2011, the cancer-causing toxic chemical Roxarsone, which in high doses could kill you, was being added to chicken feed on purpose, giving store-bought chicken the illusion of healthy coloring and plump appearance. Shockingly, this was the case with more than 70 percent of all U.S. chickens! A recent article was published stating that this continued to be the ...
The Truth About Starbucks New Coconut Milk: It Isn’t Really Coconut Milk
In an attempt to appeal to the non-dairy crowd, Starbucks is bringing “coconut milk” to the masses. After a successful trial run in select cities at the behest of their customers, Starbucks has decided to push forward with their dairy alternative.
Providing a non-dairy alternative to dairy and soy is the second most requested customer idea of all time from MyStarbucksIdea.com, ...
|More News » |