Ignoring Stuff Is Good for Your Memory


New research by a team of scientists at Simon Fraser University has shed light on why some people may be able to keep more things on their brain dashboards than others, reports Julia Shaw for SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.

The research team, led by psychology professor John McDonald and doctoral student John Gaspar, learned about differences in visual memory by recording people’s brain waves and tracking how they paid attention.

In the study, people who had low working memory capacities were unable to suppress important, distracting information. According to John Gaspar; “This indicates that it might not be about how much relevant information you can remember but instead it might be about how good are you at ignoring irrelevant information.”

This fit well with the scientists’ previous research, which had already demonstrated that the human brain has distinct processes for locking attention onto relevant information and for suppressing irrelevant information.

So it’s not just about how much information we can cram into our memories at once, it also about how much we can keep out.




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