Navigation Links
New study proves the brain has 3 layers of working memory
Date:3/9/2011

Researchers from Rice University and Georgia Institute of Technology have found support for the theory that the brain has three concentric layers of working memory where it stores readily available items. Memory researchers have long debated whether there are two or three layers and what the capacity and function of each layer is.

In a paper in the March issue of the Journal of Cognitive Psychology, researchers found that short-term memory is made up of three areas: a core focusing on one active item, a surrounding area holding at least three more active items, and a wider region containing passive items that have been tagged for later retrieval or "put on the back burner." But more importantly, they found that the core region, called the focus of attention, has three roles -- not two as proposed by previous researchers. First, this core focus directs attention to the correct item, which is affected by predictability of input pattern. Then it retrieves the item and subsequently, when needed, updates it.

The researchers, Chandramallika Basak of Rice University and Paul Verhaeghen of Georgia Tech, used simple memory tasks involving colors and shapes on a computer screen to determine the three distinct layers of memory. They also determined the roles of attention focus by exploring the process of switching items in and out of the focus of attention.

In their previous studies, Basak and Verhaeghen discovered that response time for switching in and out of the core focus is not affected by the number of items stored when the items are input in a predictable pattern.

In this study of 49 participants across two experiments, the researchers found that when no pattern exists, all participants increased their response time by an average of 240 milliseconds per item as more items are stored. This implies that the area outside the focus has to be searched when there is no pattern, even before the item can be retrieved.

However, as evidenced by the previous studies, when participants were given 10 hours of practice in a memory task with a predictable pattern, all of them could enhance the focus of attention to store four items in the focus core. But this focus does not expand when the memory task has no pattern.

"Predictability can free up resources so a person can effectively multitask," said Basak, assistant professor of psychology at Rice and lead author of the study. "When you do the same sequence over and over again, your memory can be partially automatized so you have the ability to do another task concurrently."

This comes naturally, Basak said. For instance, as you drive the usual route to your regular grocery store, you might also be thinking about what to fix for dinner and making a grocery list. That same secondary task -- the grocery list -- becomes more of a challenge when driving to a different grocery store using an unfamiliar route.

Another facet of the study showed that the third level of memory -- the region containing passive items -- is not only separate from the other two areas of active storage but has a firewall between them. The number of passive items does not influence either response time or accuracy for recalling active items.


'/>"/>

Contact: David Ruth
druth@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Women Feel More Guilt, Distress About Work Intrusions at Home, Study Says
2. Protein study helps shape understanding of body forms
3. Study: Negative classroom environment adversely affects childrens mental health
4. Sea grant awards more than $1.1 million for research under EPAs Long Island Sound study
5. UNC study finds oral tongue cancer increasing in young, white females
6. Research study explores gene therapy treatment to reduce symptoms of Parkinsons disease
7. Massachusetts reform hasnt stopped medical bankruptcies: Harvard study
8. Ohio State study: Targeted ovarian cancer therapy not cost-effective
9. In Shaken Baby Syndrome, Women as Likely to be Perpetrators as Men: Study
10. Surviving Serious Childhood Illness Takes Toll Later: Study
11. Study: Facebook photo sharing reflects focus on female appearance
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... May 24, 2017 , ... Drs. Nicholas Rallis and Chris ... spent 10 years as clinical instructors for the reputable Full Mouth Rehabilitation continuing ... the program, private practitioners receive cutting-edge clinical training and learn how to perform ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... ... Myers Jackson is well known for auctioning homes that people move and flip. ... planet. The luxury home market is alive and well and there are mansions for ... “11 Spyglass Hill Auction will enlighten you on the dynamics of how to market ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Accordant Technology, a trusted IT solutions provider, ... analytics-first approach, layered with machine learning, that provides real-time visibility into the performance, ... to the edge. Through the new partnership, customers get the real-time situational insight ...
(Date:5/24/2017)... ... May 24, 2017 , ... ... and nonprofit hospitals and health systems in the nation and help their organizations ... led professional organizations and been instrumental in developing successful hospital and health system ...
(Date:5/23/2017)... ... May 23, 2017 , ... MDLand International (MDLand), a ... today that its iClinic V12.2 solution has achieved approval from National Center for ... PCMH 2017 standards which emphasize team-based care with a significant focus on the ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/6/2017)... Provista , a proven leader in the supply chain industry ... Jim Cunniff as the company,s new president and CEO. ... Provista, including most recently serving as the president and CEO ... He assumed his new role with Provista on May 1, ... says Jody Hatcher , president, Sourcing and Collaboration Services ...
(Date:5/4/2017)... , May 4, 2017 Clarius ... its wireless, handheld ultrasound scanners this week at ... Scientific Meeting (ACOG) in San Diego, ... "Clarius is the perfect tool for ... and heart rate, and evaluate pregnancy-related complications like ...
(Date:5/3/2017)... , May 3, 2017 A Catheterization ... hospital or healthcare facility. Commonly referred to as ... equipped with diagnostic imaging technology to give physicians ... heart. In these spaces, a team of physicians ... angioplasty, percutaneous coronary intervention, congenital heart defect closure, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: