Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How The Brain And An IPhone Differ: Researchers Fine-tune Theories On How Short-term Memory Works

Date:
July 15, 2007
Source:
University of Oregon
Summary:
How many simple objects can you think about at once? Even though people feel they have rich visual experiences, researchers have found that the average person is only aware of about four items at a time. This ability, say researchers at the University of Oregon, varies from person to person, and they've found that an individual's capacity of short-term memory is a strong predictor of IQ and scholastic achievement.

University of Oregon psychologist Edward Awh and colleagues have found that people with high IQs may be able to remember more than the four objects an average person can store in short-term memory, but they may not be able to recall the objects with clarity.
Credit: Photo by Jim Barlow

How many simple objects can you think about at once? Even though people feel they have rich visual experiences, researchers have found that the average person is only aware of about four items at a time.

This ability, say researchers at the University of Oregon, varies from person to person, and they've found that an individual's capacity of short-term memory is a strong predictor of IQ and scholastic achievement. People with high IQs can think about more things at once.

Because the capacity of the short-term memory system seems to underlie a core aspect of intelligence, cognitive psychologists have been interested in determining what causes a four-item limit for most people. One reasonable idea, which researchers have been tossing about, is that memory capacity might be influenced by the complexity of items being stored.

For example, a four-gigabyte iPhone, the popular new Apple cell phone, might be able to hold about 1,000 four-minute songs, but, of course, far fewer songs would fit in storage if the songs were all 20 minutes in length, explained UO psychology professors Edward Awh and Edward Vogel, co-authors with recent UO graduate Brian Barton on a study published in the July issue of Psychological Science.

Does human memory work the same way? Their study drew some surprising conclusions on the topic. Even when very complex objects had to be remembered by subjects participating in laboratory experiments, participants, who ranged in age from 18 to 30, still were able to hold four items in active memory. However, Awh said, the clarity of those items was not perfect, and some people had much clearer memories than others.

A second finding also surprised the UO team. "While it seems reasonable that people who think about more things at once might also have clearer memories than average, we found that this assumption was not the case," Vogel said.

According to Awh, the lead author on the study, the same people who can remember a lot of objects at one time do not necessarily have clearer memories of those objects. "Knowing the number of things a person can remember tells you nothing about how clear a person's memory may be," Awh said. "So even though people with high IQs can think about more things at once, there are not guarantees about how good those memories might be."

The National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation supported the research through grants to Awh and Vogel, respectively.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Oregon. "How The Brain And An IPhone Differ: Researchers Fine-tune Theories On How Short-term Memory Works." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070712135123.htm>.
University of Oregon. (2007, July 15). How The Brain And An IPhone Differ: Researchers Fine-tune Theories On How Short-term Memory Works. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070712135123.htm
University of Oregon. "How The Brain And An IPhone Differ: Researchers Fine-tune Theories On How Short-term Memory Works." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070712135123.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
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