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Picower: 1 skull + 2 brains = 4 objects in mind
Date:6/20/2011

This effect in visual working memory may not hold for other forms of memory, but visual perceptions is one of the primary ways that humans process the world, so its impact is both far reaching in terms of understanding the brain and human consciousness and in practical terms.

"The fact that we have different capacities in each hemisphere implies that we should present information in a way that does not overtax one hemisphere while under-taxing the other," explains Buschman. "For example, heads-up displays (transparent projections of information that a driver or pilot would normally need to look down at the dashboard to see) show a lot of data. Our results suggest that you want to put that information evenly on both sides of the visual field to maximize the amount of information that gets into the brain."

Likewise, cognitive therapies for improving working memory (and in brain games designed to keep it young and nimble) should present information in a way that trains each hemisphere separately. Biomedical monitors that currently have one column of information should balance it in right and left columns, and security personnel could take in more information if displays scrolled vertically rather than horizontally, which wastes the independent capacities on the right and left. The researchers are forming collaborations to develop many of these ideas.

Their next basic research project is to discover why this perceptual bottleneck occurs in the first place, Miller says. "That would give us a deep understanding of how the brain represents information and would give us the first real insights into consciousness."


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Contact: Marta Buczek
mbuczek@mit.edu
617-253-2702
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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