For questions about the encoding, storage, and retrieval of information in the brain. This tag encompasses research all the way from the molecular level in model organisms to abstract mathematical representations, and includes applied learning paradigms and tasks.

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41
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3answers
4k views

Does writing something down help memorize it?

This is a question inspired by this recent question on the Chinese Language & Usage website. Someone asked why they needed to learn how to write Chinese characters, since today we mostly use ...
27
votes
4answers
1k views

Is The magical number 7 still valid?

George A. Miller published "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information" in 1956 and is one of the most highly cited papers in psychology. It ...
25
votes
4answers
1k views

Is multitasking a myth?

Often, the term 'multitasking' is applied to very busy and 'wired' people. There is an adage that women multitask better than men. My question is, do we actually multitask? If so, what are the ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a term for trying to remember a word, but only remembering its first letter?

This happens to me frequently. I'll say, "Oh you know that guy... uhh... I can't remember his name. But he starts with a 'Z'." You can remember part of the word but not the whole word. Is there a ...
16
votes
2answers
717 views

Are spaced flashcards effective for learning?

Several apps and sites offer flashcard-based learning that repeat the cards you do poorly on over a period of time (the more inaccurate the answer the closer to each other the repetitions are). One ...
15
votes
2answers
537 views

Does any evidence show that Smartphone users have poorer memory?

An ages old complaint is that new technology harms memory. Why remember something when you can look it up? In a course on Human Memory I distinctly recall an interesting discussion on phones and ...
14
votes
5answers
461 views

Why is storytelling an effective way to transmit information between people?

Parables, fables, myths, whatever you might call them, stories have always been part of human consciousness. Within recent decades, storytelling is recognized as a big component of advertising and ...
12
votes
2answers
340 views

Is photographic memory possible?

Photographic memory is a fairly well known phenomena, but is it theoretically possible? In Marvin Minsky's The Society of Mind claims it is a myth: "...we often hear about people with ...
12
votes
1answer
299 views

Does dream recall disturb the processes of memory consolidation?

Psychology in the time of Freud was occupied with dreams. Relaying these to one's analyst was an important part of treatment. Fast-forward to less than 100 years later, and we know so much about the ...
12
votes
1answer
478 views

Does the transcription method used (e.g., printing, handwriting, typing, voice recording, etc.) affect memory retention?

When I was in high school, one of my teachers used to make us hand print copies of materials from transparencies on an overhead projector (I may be showing my age), with the reasoning that re-writing ...
11
votes
2answers
509 views

What form might Jungian archetypes take in the brain?

Modern psychology and psychiatry are very well grounded in scientific principles. Both, however, have a history in various analytical philosophies. Jung had the notion of an archetype, a universally ...
11
votes
2answers
470 views

What is the optimal repetition pattern to maximize long term memory?

Which is the appropriate repetition pattern to aid long term memory, in terms of time between study sessions? I have been reading about Ebbinghaus and doing some related research, but I can't find a ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is recognition easier than recall?

The main ways of memory retrieval are recognition and recall. Why has it been found that recognition is "easier" to perform, meaning it is usually faster or is more likely to yield an accurate ...
10
votes
2answers
257 views

Why do we not remember things from the first couple of years of childhood?

As parents of a soon-to-be three-year-old, my wife and I spend a lot of time planning activities and trips for our son. However, my wife wanted to hold off on some of the big ones (i.e. Disney ...
10
votes
3answers
282 views

How does the brain learn what something is for the first time?

I'm trying to understand how the idea of what a thing is originates in humans. For example, in computer science, it is possible to know what an object is and what it does, by examining its ...
10
votes
3answers
856 views

Is it possible to improve reading speed and visual comprehension by doing exercises?

Background I'm trying to capture detailed information from the images in my visual memory, mainly text. My daily life requires reading many documents on varying topics. I want to increase my reading ...
10
votes
2answers
497 views

Is remembering a list of words an example of semantic or episodic memory?

I'm having a hard time making a clear distinction between semantic and episodic memory. When presented with idealized examples, I find the breakdown clear; describing a trip to Paris is an example of ...
10
votes
1answer
245 views

Compared efficiency of different spaced-repetition memorisation techniques

Spaced repetition is a memorization technique that works by reviewing question/answer pairs according to a schedule that depends on performance. Be it software or paper flashcards, there are various ...
9
votes
3answers
311 views

Is it possible to measure the working memory of a non-human animal?

Is it possible to measure the working memory of a non-human animal? And if so, have there been any studies that have quantified the working memory of animals, and that have compared that to the ...
9
votes
1answer
119 views

Can we draw conclusions about content of thoughts from neural firing patterns?

Can the neural firing patterns of animals be associated with specific kinds of thoughts? (ie Thoughts related to food, mating, or neighborly aggression?) I am curious about the speculations in ...
9
votes
1answer
161 views

When is higher confidence predictive of less accuracy?

Normally, when an individual is more confident in a particular response (e.g., memory decision, general knowledge answer), he or she is also more likely to be accurate. There are also studies in which ...
8
votes
2answers
123 views

Is it possible to create artificial thoughts in a childs mind

What I mean is, is it possible to create memories in a childs mind, memories which a child grows up to remember as real events, when infact those events never happened in real life? For example: If ...
8
votes
3answers
339 views

Is it possible to create a false memory by trying to remember something that eludes you?

Sometimes I have difficulty remembering the specifics of an event, specifically if I'm tired or possibly have recently consumed alcohol. A close friend of mine has gotten me in the habit of ...
8
votes
1answer
244 views

Is there a practical limit to the amount of knowledge a human can learn?

There's definitely progressive interference and retroactive interference, which are basically two ways that old memories and new memories can interfere with each other. But on the other hand, do ...
8
votes
1answer
120 views

Hearing first but understanding later?

I have experienced this phenomenon several times and checked with other people as well. It goes like this: you hear something, but it's just a sound with no meaning. Some seconds later, you ...
8
votes
1answer
334 views

What are the current suggested models for Primacy Effect in memory recall or personality impression?

What are the current suggested normative, mechanistic or phenomenological models for explaining primacy effect as was observed by Solomon Asch (1946) on personality impression, list-of-words memory ...
8
votes
1answer
148 views

Does typical duration of Short Term Memory differ between tasks?

The duration of Short Term Memory is a fuzzy thing; Wikipedia notes several disputes over it's length and I recently alluded to this fuzziness myself. However, I wonder if part of the apparently ...
7
votes
4answers
178 views

Why is it easier to remember the correct response for problems with many options rather than just two?

Sometimes it seems easier, at least for me, to remember an answer, when there are more than 2 options to choose from. For example, I easily remember my pin (14 bit), but hardly the lighter switch (up ...
7
votes
3answers
128 views

Does a person's brain still contain a record of daily events?

Does a person's brain have a record of every event that happened during a person's lifetime? Is it possible to recall any of those events and is it possible to recall those events in detail? For ...
7
votes
3answers
293 views

How much can users hold in their short term memory

I recently undertook a questionnaire and was asked a question about short term memory. One that I just can't find an answer to at all as it seems to be so contradictory. This got me curious. How ...
7
votes
2answers
273 views

Is it easier for people to remember longer words than words mixed with symbols?

I'm doing a study on why it is difficult to remember passwords. I would imagine that it would be easier for people to remember a password like "strawberryhouse" than "$tr@wb3rr!", even though the ...
7
votes
3answers
339 views

What are the mathematical models of memory?

Are there mathematical models of memory in humans or animals? I want to know how neuroscientists use mathematics to describe memory in living creatures. How do neuroscientists model memory and show ...
7
votes
2answers
371 views

What is the term for “What has been seen cannot be unseen” in cognitive sciences?

During a discussion with my officemate I told him that I read somewhere that the gas pillar in Carina nebula looks like a cat punching the dog; ever since then, every time my wallpaper slideshow ...
7
votes
2answers
447 views

How to assess participant awareness of experimental deception without inducing awareness?

I am designing a memory experiment with a deceptive critical trial, wherein an item is swapped without the participant's knowledge. What is the best way to determine if the participant has noticed ...
7
votes
2answers
126 views

What causes people to remember events which did not take place?

How do we "remember" events which did not take place, or future events? I'm using remember as a way of describing the experience of recalling a future scenario. For instance, when you were little say ...
7
votes
1answer
104 views

Is it possible to distinguish recall and calculation?

Say I ask subjects what $20 \cdot 20$ is. Is there any way, besides introspection, to evaluate whether subjects recalled the answer or calculated the answer? In general, I would expect that the ...
7
votes
2answers
244 views

Will Our Brain Speed Reduce As Our Memory “Mail Boxes” Fill Up?

I recently stumbled accross the article "When the Brain's Mailbox Is Full", which can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/1999/07/27/health/when-the-brain-s-mailbox-is-full.html. The article ...
7
votes
1answer
239 views

Which equation is Ebbinghaus's forgetting curve and what do the constants represent?

First off, I've come across two different forgetting curve equations. $$R = e^{-\large \frac{t}{s}}$$ where $R$ is retention, $t$ is time and $s$ is strength can be found on Wikipedia. And $$b = ...
7
votes
1answer
70 views

How does recalling a specific memory decrease depression?

Research by Serrano et al (2004) indicated that older adults with depressive symptoms showed that with increased specificity of memories, individuals show decreased depression and ...
7
votes
1answer
314 views

What is the scientific term for unexpected, spontaneous dream recall?

I'm interested if there's a term for spontaneous dream recall. I will try to define the phenomenon I'm talking about. Over 10 years ago, I started to notice that I can spontaneously recall dreams, ...
7
votes
2answers
670 views

What is the average amount of new vocabulary adults retain when learning a second language?

What are the realistic/optimal (or maximal) number of words of vocabulary that can be learned (retained and later successfully accessed) by an adult learner of a foreign/second language? (Unit: Per ...
6
votes
3answers
237 views

What causes an individual to not be able to hold all the details of a large project in memory?

Background: First of all, I'm not in any kind related to cognitive science, I'm a programmer. I'm not even sure that it's the right place for asking my question, but I'll try anyway. So, first of all, ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

How do songs trigger memories associated with previous experiences of listening to the song?

Background: If I like a particular song, I listen to it while doing other things until I get sick of that song. This creates an extremely strong bond between the two things: the song and the activity. ...
6
votes
1answer
118 views

Phenomenon that causes music to sound like it's being played at a different tempo than remembered?

Something I've noticed now and then is that I'll be listening to a song off my music player and it sounds like it's being played in a tempo faster or slower than I remember the song being. Is this a ...
6
votes
1answer
439 views

What are the purported mechanisms of eidetic memory and why is it comorbid with autism?

Eidetic memory, often called "photographic" or "flashbulb" memory, is often associated with amazing feats of recall. Is the mechanism behind this phenomenon an aberration of the visualization of a ...
6
votes
1answer
156 views

Savant syndrome and Cognitive bias

Take the case of an autistic savant with exceptional memory skills. Is this person less prone to cognitive biases involving memory skills such as availability heuristic bias than a normal person due ...
6
votes
2answers
306 views

Are there any laws of memory?

Several years ago, my adviser wrote an article discussing the observation that a hundred years of studying memory had not resulted in the discovery of a "law" of memory. He wrote (p. 247): When ...
6
votes
1answer
58 views

The comfort and appeal of vintage objects?

The vintage culture has grown very large in the last 10 years, with all sorts of collectables from furniture, to homes, to old signs and toys. Just watch the show "American Pickers" to get an idea of ...
6
votes
1answer
136 views

Controlling for response bias in a forced choice memory task

I want to present participants a pair of items $a$ and $b$, each with an association $x$ or $y$. Later on participants will presented with the items singularly, and asked 'what was the association?'. ...
6
votes
1answer
138 views

What does the literature suggest about the optimal strategy for quickly memorizing various types of content?

I just finished reading Moonwalking with Einstein, a journalistic piece on the World Memory Championships. The book explicates the various techniques used by participants to memorize different types ...