Training the brain can make a person's memory long-lasting, suggests study.
Researchers from McMaster University found that when individuals were shown visual and abstract patterns, they are able to recall very specific information from what they learned one to two years earlier.
"We found that this type of learning, called perceptual learning, was very precise and long-lasting," said Zahra Hussain, lead author of the study who is a former McMaster graduate student in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour and now a Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham.
"These long-lasting effects arose out of relatively brief experience with the patterns - about two hours, followed by nothing for several months, or years," she said.
The researchers asked participants to identify one specific face in a large pattern, which could prove to be a difficult task. However, these participants had difficulty identifying the correct images in the early stages, but improved as they continued to practice.
About one year later, these people were asked to come back and complete the same task again, as well as a new version of the assignment.
The researchers found that when the participants finished the original task a second time, they were able to do so with as much accuracy as they had a year earlier. However, they struggled to complete the new assignment even though it was very similar.
"The brain really seems to hold onto specific information, which provides great promise for the development of brain training," said Allison Sekuler, co-author of the study.
The study appears this month in journal Psychological Science.