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

owever, 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.


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

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