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4 Things Most People Get Wrong About Memory

4 Things Most People Get Wrong About Memory
Human memory has been shown again and again to be far from perfect. We overlook big things, forget details, conflate events. One famous experiment even demonstrated that many people asked to watch a video of people playing basketball failed to notice a person wearing a gorilla suit walk right through the middle of the scene. So why does eyewitness testimony continue to hold water in courtrooms? A new nationwide survey of 1,500 U.S. adults shows that many people continue to have the wrong idea about how we remember—and what we forget. Here are four common incorrect assumptions about memory, held by some of the survey subjects, that experts say should be forgotten: 1. Nearly two thirds (63 percent) of those in the random telephone survey said that they agreed with this model of a passively recorded memory. 2. More than three quarters (77.5 percent) of people thought that this would be the case. 3. Image courtesy of iStockphoto/DebbiSmirnoff Related:  Memory

How Memory Works: an Infographic For our blog’s sections on ‘Your Brain‘ and ‘Test Prep‘, we’re always on the lookout for great articles, videos and charts on memory and retention. By helping you understand how our brains work, we want to allow you to try different approaches to studying that will hopefully help you become better learners for life. Over time, we’ve compiled articles on brain foods, how motivation and memory works, methods for better retention, … If we take a look at the sum of all articles and areas of interest, it seems obvious that there should be one chart that combines all of these elements that make up and influence our memory. Thanks to onlinecolleges.com, there now is. Dr. Bill, whom some of you may know as the “Memory Medic”, wrote a short mention of this infographic on this blog after one of its creators mentioned it to him.

How to Study Less by Learning Things Once You read over your notes. Then you read them over again. Then you read them over a third time. Then you take the test and are surprised at just how much you missed. Despite reading everything three times! A lot of study time is wasted because of one problem: you fail to learn things the first time around. Repeatedly going over the same information like putting a band-aid over a sieve. The key to reducing the amount of time you study is simple: learn things the first time you see them, instead of after dozens of repetitions. This is all easier said than done. Step One: Find the Holes If you want to repair a leaky brain, you need to figure out where the holes are. What from this section am I most likely to forget? When you identify weak points, you can invest more time in fixing those instead of wasting time with a blanket studying technique of all information. Step Two: Repair Weak Points Once you’ve identified potential weak-points, you should immediately seek to fix them. Memorizing?

Forgetting is part of remembering It's time for forgetting to get some respect, says Ben Storm, author of a new article on memory in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. "We need to rethink how we're talking about forgetting and realize that under some conditions it actually does play an important role in the function of memory," says Storm, who is a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "Memory is difficult. Thinking is difficult," Storm says. Memories and associations accumulate rapidly. But, fortunately, that isn't what happens. In one kind of experiment, participants are given a list of words that have some sort of relation to each other. People who are good at forgetting information they don't need are also good at problem solving and at remembering something when they're being distracted with other information. There are plenty of times when forgetting makes sense in daily life.

The Most Efficient Way to Practice The old cliche has it that practice makes perfect, but what makes for perfect practice? One of the first scientific bits of insight came over a century ago, when one of psychology's great pioneers -- the insanely patient cognitive psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus -- pulled a move from the Mad Scientist's Handbook, and ran massive experiments on his own brain , not with strange substances, but with strange syllables. Over weeks and months and years Ebbinghaus teased his own brain with long (and sometimes very long) lists of arbitrary nonsense syllables, like BOK, DAX, and YAT, and recorded how well he remembered them, and for how long. Ebbinhaus' quarry was the recipe for a perfect memory -- or at least for the formula for most efficiently learning new information. Whether you are trying to learn a musical instrument, master a foreign language, or just study for an exam, the rate-limiting step is often memory. Yet nobody has really understood it is true. But not all that differently.

Reminiscence bump explanations: Why we remember young adulthood better than any other age YanLev/iStockphoto/Thinkstock. Twentysomethings are having a moment. They’re inspiring self-help guides (see Meg Jay’s The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—And How To Make the Most of Them Now), hit television shows, Tumblrs-turned-handbooks, and lyrical New Yorker think pieces. Katy Waldman is a Slate assistant editor. Follow A little-known but robust line of research shows that there really is something deeply, weirdly meaningful about this period. Memory researchers have been wrestling with the reminiscence bump since at least the 1980s, when studies began turning up evidence that memory has a peculiar affinity for events that happen during the third decade of life. Autobiographical memories are not distributed equally across the lifespan. At first, researchers proposed that the reminiscence bump coincided with a phase of developing mental firepower. I called up Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, for his take.

Memory in the Brain [Interactive] Although most people think of memory as a vault for storing information, it is more like a seamstress who stitches together logical threads into scenes that make sense. In this view, a good memory is therefore not one that holds lots of data but that can deftly separate what is useful from what could distract or upset you. Getting rid of what is not necessary—forgetting—is thus an important part of memory and of thought. To learn more about memory and the power of forgetting, see the January 2012 Scientific American Mind. More to Explore8 Ways To Forget Your TroublesLet It GoA Feeling for the PastTrying to ForgetTotaling Recall10 Novels That Will Sharpen Your Mind [Interactive]

Weight Loss Improves Memory John Gunstad, an associate professor in Kent State University’s Department of Psychology, and a team of researchers have discovered a link between weight loss and improved memory and concentration. The study shows that bariatric surgery patients exhibited improved memory function 12 weeks after their operations. “The initial idea came from our clinical work,” Gunstad said. “I was working at Brown Medical School in Rhode Island at the time and had the chance to work with a large number of people who were looking to lose weight through either behavioral means or weight loss surgery.” of Gunstad discussing his research Gunstad said he kept noticing that these patients would make similar mistakes. The researchers discovered that bariatric surgery patients demonstrated improved memory and concentration 12 weeks after surgery, improving from the slightly impaired range to the normal range. Gunstad thinks the study is reason for optimism.

How Our Brains Make Memories Sitting at a sidewalk café in Montreal on a sunny morning, Karim Nader recalls the day eight years earlier when two planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. He lights a cigarette and waves his hands in the air to sketch the scene. At the time of the attack, Nader was a postdoctoral researcher at New York University. In the following days, Nader recalls, he passed through subway stations where walls were covered with notes and photographs left by people searching desperately for missing loved ones. Like millions of people, Nader has vivid and emotional memories of the September 11, 2001, attacks and their aftermath. Most people have so-called flashbulb memories of where they were and what they were doing when something momentous happened: the assassination of President John F. Nader, now a neuroscientist at McGill University in Montreal, says his memory of the World Trade Center attack has played a few tricks on him.

How Friends Ruin Memory: The Social Conformity Effect | Wired Science Humans are storytelling machines. We don’t passively perceive the world – we tell stories about it, translating the helter-skelter of events into tidy narratives. This is often a helpful habit, helping us make sense of mistakes, consider counterfactuals and extract a sense of meaning from the randomness of life. But our love of stories comes with a serious side-effect: like all good narrators, we tend to forsake the facts when they interfere with the plot. The reason we’re such consummate bullshitters is simple: we bullshit for each other. The power of this phenomenon was demonstrated in a new Science paper by Micah Edelson, Tali Sharot, Raymond Dolan and Yadin Dudai. This time, though, the subjects were given a “lifeline”: they were shown the answers given by other people in their film-viewing group. The question, of course, is whether their memory of the film had actually undergone a change. Here’s where the fMRI data proved useful. Image: wolfgangfoto/Flickr

To make memories, new neurons must erase older ones Short-term memory may depend in a surprising way on the ability of newly formed neurons to erase older connections. That's the conclusion of a report in the November 13th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, that provides some of the first evidence in mice and rats that new neurons sprouted in the hippocampus cause the decay of short-term fear memories in that brain region, without an overall memory loss. The researchers led by Kaoru Inokuchi of The University of Toyama in Japan say the discovery shows a more important role than many would have anticipated for the erasure of memories. They propose that the birth of new neurons promotes the gradual loss of memory traces from the hippocampus as those memories are transferred elsewhere in the brain for permanent storage. In effect, the new results suggest that failure of neurogenesis will lead to problems because the brain's short-term memory is literally full.

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