Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Discovery disproves simple concept of memory as ’storage space’

24.11.2005


Scientists achieve first measurements of selectivity mechanism


a. Example of the memory filtering test conducted by University of Oregon researchers. Participants must remember only the red rectangles and ignore the blue rectangles.
b. Brainwaves for high capacity and low capacity participants. Blue line is activity for 4 red items; Black line is for 2 red items; Red line is for 2 red items and 2 blue items. If the red line is close to the black line, subjects are efficient at keeping out the blue items. If the red line is close to the blue line, the subjects are unable to keep the blue items from popping into memory.
c. Correlation between a person’s memory capacity and how good they are at keeping the irrelevant items out of memory.



Even if you could get more RAM for your brain, the extra storage probably wouldn’t make it easier for you to find where you left your car keys.

What may help, according to a discovery published Nov. 24 in the journal Nature, is a better bouncer – as in the type of bouncer who manages crowd control for nightclubs. The study by Edward Vogel, an assistant professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Oregon, is the first to demonstrate that awareness, or "visual working memory," depends on your ability to filter out irrelevant information.


"Until now, it’s been assumed that people with high capacity visual working memory had greater storage but actually, it’s about the bouncer – a neural mechanism that controls what information gets into awareness," Vogel said.

The findings turn upside down the popular concept that a person’s memory capacity, which is strongly related to intelligence, is solely dependent upon the amount of information you can cram into your head at one time. These results have broad implications and may lead to developing more effective ways to optimize memory as well as improved diagnosis and treatment of cognitive deficits associated with attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia.

The study used a new technique for measuring brainwaves, developed by Vogel and previously reported in Nature (April 2004), which allows researchers to record the effects as objects pop into the minds of their subjects on a moment-by-moment basis.

Working with two of his graduate students, Andrew McCollough and Maro Machizawa, Vogel recorded brain activity as people performed computer tasks asking them to remember arrays of colored squares or rectangles. In one experiment, researchers told subjects to hold in mind two red rectangles and ignore two blue ones. Without exception, high-capacity individuals excelled at dismissing blue, but low-capacity individuals held all of the rectangles in mind.

"People differed systematically, and dramatically, in their ability to keep irrelevant items out of awareness," Vogel said. "This doesn’t mean people with low capacity are cognitively impaired. There may be advantages to having a lot of seemingly irrelevant information coming to mind. Being a bit scattered tends to be a trait of highly imaginative people."

This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Mental Health and the Oregon Medical Research Foundation.

At the University of Oregon since 2001, Vogel leads the Visual Working Memory and Attention Lab in the Department of Psychology.

Machizawa assisted with Vogel’s research while completing his master’s degree. He is now a researcher at the Riken Brain Sciences Institute, Japan’s leading funding agency for scientific research.

McCollough, who is working toward his doctorate, is a graduate research assistant in Vogel’s lab.

Melody Ward Leslie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uoregon.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>