Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Blind People Are 'Serial Memory' Whizzes

Date:
June 22, 2007
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
Compared to people with normal vision, those who were blind at birth tend to have excellent memories. Now, a new study shows that blind individuals are particular whizzes when it comes to remembering things in the right order.

Compared to people with normal vision, those who were blind at birth tend to have excellent memories. Now, a new study shows that blind individuals are particular whizzes when it comes to remembering things in the right order.

The findings are a good example of the familiar adage that "practice makes perfect" and reveal that mental capabilities may be refined or adjusted in order to compensate for the lack of a sensory input, according to researchers Noa Raz and Ehud Zohary of Hebrew University.

"Our opinion is that the superior serial memory of the blind is most likely a result of practice," Zohary said. "In the absence of vision, the world is experienced as a sequence of events. Since the blind constantly use serial-memory strategies in everyday circumstances, they tend to develop superior skills."

For example, the blind tend to navigate the world by forming "route-like" sequential representations. Blind people also rely on serial-memory strategies to identify otherwise indistinguishable objects, such as different brands of yogurt that vary only in their labeling, the researchers noted. According to their own reports, in order to correctly choose a desired item, the blind typically place objects in a fashioned order and give them ordinal tags, such as "the 3rd item on the left." Thus, a memory for the order in which items are encountered may be especially important for blind people's ability to create mental pictures of a scene.

In the new study, the researchers tested the performance of 19 congenitally blind individuals and individually matched sighted controls in two types of memory tasks: item memory and serial memory. In the item-memory tasks, subjects were asked to identify 20 words from a list they heard. In the serial-memory tasks, subjects had to remember not only the words, but also their ordinal position in the list.

Those who were blind recalled more words than the sighted, indicating a better memory overall, they found. Their greatest advantage, however, was the ability to remember longer word sequences according to their original order.

The blind individuals' remarkable edge in item recall resulted not from a specific advantage in remembering the first words in the list, or the most recent words. Rather, the blind showed a better memory for all of the words, regardless of where they fell. That result suggested that the key to their success may lie in representing item lists as word chains, perhaps by generating associations between adjacent items.

The researchers said they plan to further explore the underlying mental processes responsible for the differences in memory skill by using imaging techniques that measure brain activity.

The researchers include Noa Raz, Ella Striem, Golan Pundak, Tanya Orlov, and Ehud Zohary of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel. This study was funded by the McDonnell Foundation grant #220020046.

Reference: Raz et al.: "Superior Serial Memory in the Blind: A Case of Cognitive Compensatory Adjustment." Publishing in Current Biology 17, 1--5, July 3, 2007. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2007.05.060.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "Blind People Are 'Serial Memory' Whizzes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 June 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070621130052.htm>.
Cell Press. (2007, June 22). Blind People Are 'Serial Memory' Whizzes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070621130052.htm
Cell Press. "Blind People Are 'Serial Memory' Whizzes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070621130052.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. 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:
from the past week

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