Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How do I remember that I know you know that I know?

Date:
August 24, 2011
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
"I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time," says the character Aaron in the 1987 movie Broadcast News. He and the woman he's talking to have a lot of common ground, the shared territory that makes conversations work.

"I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time," says the character Aaron in the 1987 movie Broadcast News. He and the woman he's talking to have a lot of common ground, the shared territory that makes conversations work. Common ground is why, after you've mentioned Great-Aunt Mildred's 80th birthday party once in a conversation, you can just refer to it as "the party."

In a new study to be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, the authors pinpoint the type of memory required to make common ground work and confirm that people with a particular type of amnesia have trouble making common ground in conversation.

People with declarative memory impairment (amnesia) have good memories of what happened before their amnesia started, but they can't form new declarative memories. That's the kind of memory for facts and events, like what they did yesterday or the name of a person they just met. They can still form non-declarative memories, like learning how to ride a bike or other skills, says Rachael Rubin of the University of Illinois. For this study, she worked with five people with declarative memory amnesia and five healthy people. Rubin cowrote the new paper with Sarah Brown-Schmidt and Neal Cohen of the University of Illinois and Melissa Duff and Daniel Tranel of the University of Iowa.

Rubin and her colleagues tested people on whether they could keep up with common ground in conversation. In one condition, the participant and experimenter sat facing each other, looking at back-to-back monitors. Each monitor showed a 33 grid, which looked like a real set of cubbyholes between the two people, with objects in each compartment. The participant could see right through the top row of compartments. The middle row was blocked off, and the bottom row was blocked at the back so the participant could see what was in the compartments but the experimenter couldn't.

The experimenter asked the participant: "What object is in the bottom left?" The participant would answer -- "an elephant." After 40 seconds of conversation about something else, the experimenter would say, "Look at the elephant." The catch was, the participant had two elephants to choose from. Normal people looked to the elephant that had been referred to just previously. But people with amnesia looked equally at the two elephants, showing no benefit from the earlier portion of the conversation.

This suggests that declarative memory is required for keeping track of what's going on in a conversation, even if it was something that was mentioned less than a minute ago. "Memory and language are related more than people thought before," Rubin says. And it's a reminder that people with amnesia don't just have trouble with memory; their memory problems extend to other parts of their lives, like the ability to connect with other people through conversation.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "How do I remember that I know you know that I know?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110824192350.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2011, August 24). How do I remember that I know you know that I know?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110824192350.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "How do I remember that I know you know that I know?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110824192350.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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