Poor Memory for Sound? Here's Why

by Dr. Enozia Vakil on  March 2, 2014 at 2:50 PM Research News   - G J E 4
Forgot the grocery items your wife asked you to pick up on the way back home from work? You're not alone.

When it comes to memory, we do not remember things we hear nearly as well as things we see or touch, reveals research.
 Poor Memory for Sound? Here's Why
Poor Memory for Sound? Here's Why

"As it turns out, there is merit to the Chinese proverb 'I hear, and I forget; I see, and I remember'," chuckled lead author James Bigelow from University of Iowa (UI).

"The brain may process auditory information differently than visual and tactile information, and alternative strategies - such as increased mental repetition - may be needed when trying to improve memory," explained Amy Poremba, associate professor at UI's department of psychology.

The researchers exposed 100 undergraduate to a variety of sounds, visuals and things that could be felt.

The students were least apt to remember the sounds they had heard.

In an experiment testing short term-memory, participants were asked to listen to pure tones they heard through headphones, look at various shades of red squares, and feel low-intensity vibrations by gripping an aluminium bar.

Each set of tones, squares and vibrations was separated by time delays ranging from one to 32 seconds.

Although students' memory declined across the board when time delays grew longer, the decline was much greater for sounds.

"If someone gives you a number, and you dial it right away, you are usually fine. But do anything in between, and the odds are you will have forgotten it," Bigelow added.

The way our mind processes and stores sound may be different from the way it process and stores other types of memories.

This could have big implications for educators, design engineers and advertisers alike, suggested the study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source: IANS

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