Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sense And Sensibility In Short-term Memory: Auditory And Visual Memory Use Similar Neural Mechanisms

Date:
February 28, 2007
Source:
Brandeis University
Summary:
More than three centuries ago, Sir Isaac Newton reflected on the similarities between the sense of hearing and the sense of sight. Newton's speculations were impossible to test scientifically, until now. A novel Brandeis University study confirms the Newtonian idea that sight and sound are indeed parallel -- at least when it comes to encoding and retrieving short-term memories from the two senses.

More than three centuries ago, Sir Isaac Newton reflected on the similarities between the sense of hearing and the sense of sight. Newton's speculations were impossible to test scientifically, until now. A novel Brandeis University study confirms the Newtonian idea that sight and sound are indeed parallel--at least when it comes to encoding and retrieving short-term memories from the two senses.

Related Articles


Published in this week's issue of the open-access journal Public Library of Science Biology (PLoS), the study was inspired by Newton's 1706 book, Opticks, and set out to investigate whether sight and hearing behave similarly in encoding short-term memories.

"Obviously, sound and light are physically different, processed by different receptors--eyes and ears--and furthermore, processed in different neural streams within the brain," explained coauthor Robert Sekuler, a neuroscientist at the Volen National Center for Complex Systems at Brandeis University, and an expert on the neural and cognitive terrain associated with vision. "Previous studies that tried to compare auditory and visual memory did little or nothing to put the stimuli that would be remembered on equal footing--comparing 'apples to apples' between the two senses."

"But in this study we used insights from neuroscience to identify test materials in vision and hearing that the human brain would process and treat in similar ways, and then we used these well-matched stimuli to examine memory for studied lists of either auditory or visual items," said Sekuler.

The study used computer-generated visual images and sounds to test auditory and visual memory mechanisms. Both the sounds and the visual materials were intentionally unfamiliar to test subjects, who also found it difficult to name the test items. The results were based on behavioral measures and a computational model for memory.

"Memories are not exact representations of the past," said coauthor Kristina Visscher, a post-doctoral fellow at Brandeis. "This study shows that our representations of sight and sound get contorted on the way to being remembered, and they get contorted in the same ways." The errors we make in memory for sounds are the same types of errors we make in memory for sight.

The first of its kind, the study opens the door to the tantalizing possibility that, according to Visscher, "the brain, in this case at least, is relatively uninventive: it may use fairly similar methods to generate light-based and sound-based memories." So three centuries after Newton published his inspired speculation, there is evidence that his intuition was close to the mark.

For a demonstration of the sounds used, see http://people.brandeis.edu/~sekuler/rippleSoundFiles/movingRippleSounds.html

For a demonstration (using visual stimuli) of the memory task used, see http://people.brandeis.edu/~sekuler/MemoryDemo/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brandeis University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brandeis University. "Sense And Sensibility In Short-term Memory: Auditory And Visual Memory Use Similar Neural Mechanisms." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220005031.htm>.
Brandeis University. (2007, February 28). Sense And Sensibility In Short-term Memory: Auditory And Visual Memory Use Similar Neural Mechanisms. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220005031.htm
Brandeis University. "Sense And Sensibility In Short-term Memory: Auditory And Visual Memory Use Similar Neural Mechanisms." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070220005031.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) — A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Milestone Birthdays Can Bring Existential Crisis, Study Says

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) — Researchers find that as people approach new decades in their lives they make bigger life decisions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins