Scientists from the University of Oregon have discovered that a person’s memory capacity is not just dependent on how much information their brain can store, but also on how well they are able to filter their thoughts to focus on what they are trying to remember. In other words, people with an effective “thought bouncer” managing memory crowd control are better at remembering and keeping track of their thoughts. LiveScience.com has an article today about the research results that will be published in the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Nature.
During the experiment the test subjects watched as colored rectangles were flashed on a video screen. By measuring the subjects’ brainwaves the researchers were able to map certain neural patterns to specific rectangles allowing them to determine which rectangles the subjects were thinking about at a given time. The researchers then told the subjects to focus on the pair of red rectangles and to ignore the others. They found that the group of individuals with the higher memory capacity was able to consistently filter the non-red rectangles from their thoughts, while the others were always thinking of all of the rectangles to some degree.
Study leader Edward Vogel believes this work could be the foundation for helping people to improve their memory capacity. His team is already hard at work developing exercises based on their results.