Navigation Links
That gut feeling may actually reflect a reliable memory
Date:2/8/2009

EVANSTON, Ill. --- You know the feeling. You make a decision you're certain is merely a "lucky guess."

A new study from Northwestern University offers precise electrophysiological evidence that such decisions may sometimes not be guesswork after all.

The research utilizes the latest brain-reading technology to point to the surprising accuracy of memories that can't be consciously accessed.

During a special recognition test, guesses turned out to be as accurate or more accurate than when study participants thought they consciously remembered.

"We may actually know more than we think we know in everyday situations, too," said Ken Paller, professor of psychology at Northwestern. "Unconscious memory may come into play, for example, in recognizing the face of a perpetrator of a crime or the correct answer on a test. Or the choice from a horde of consumer products may be driven by memories that are quite alive on an unconscious level."

The study links lucky guesses to valid memories and suggests that people need to be more receptive to multiple types of knowledge, Paller said.

Paller and Joel L. Voss, who received his Ph.D. at Northwestern and is now at the Beckman Institute, are co-investigators of the study. "An Electrophysiological Signature of Unconscious Recognition Memory" will be published online Feb. 8 by the journal Nature Neuroscience.

During the first part of the memory test, study participants were shown a series of colorful kaleidoscope images that flashed on a computer screen. Half of the images were viewed with full attention as participants tried to memorize them.

While viewing each of the other images, they heard a spoken number, such as 3, 8 or 4, which they had to keep in mind until the next trial, when they indicated whether it was odd or even. On every trial they had to listen to a new number and press a button to complete the number task.

In other words, they could focus on memorizing half of the images but were greatly distracted from memorizing the others.

A short time later, they viewed pairs of similar kaleidoscope images in a recognition test.

"Remarkably, people were more accurate in selecting the old image when they had been distracted than when they had paid full attention," Paller said. "They also were more accurate when they claimed to be guessing than when they registered some familiarity for the image."

Splitting attention during a memory test usually makes memory worse. "But our research showed that even when people weren't paying as much attention, their visual system was storing information quite well," Paller said.

When implicit recognition took place, EEG signals were recorded from a set of electrodes placed on each person's head. The brain waves were distinct from those associated with conscious memory experiences. A unique signal of implicit recognition was seen a quarter of a second after study participants saw each old image.

The findings include memory effects and brain-wave effects. The memory effects with kaleidoscopes were found in two groups of 24 people each (published in a prior paper: Voss & Paller, 2008). The brain-wave effects were found in one group of 12 subjects. Both memory and brain-wave effects were also seen in pilot studies not reported in either paper.

"The novel results show that when people try to remember, they can know more than they think they know," Paller said.

The study builds upon a body of research that shows that amnesia victims with severe memory problems often have strong implicit memories.

The study suggests that we shouldn't rely only on conscious memory, Paller concludes. "It suggests that we also need to develop our intuitive nature and creativity. Intuition may have an important role in finding answers to all sorts of problems in everyday life -- including big ones such as our ailing economy."


'/>"/>

Contact: Pat Vaughan Tremmel
p-tremmel@northwestern.edu
847-491-4892
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Single in the City? How the Holidays Leave the Fabulous Feeling More Like Failures
2. Younger People, Not Seniors, Getting More Colds and Feeling Run Down
3. Homosexuals negative feelings about sexuality predict poor mental and sexual health
4. Hurried doctor visits may leave patients feeling forgetful
5. Feeling fat is worse than being it
6. Expressing feelings after trauma not necessary, research shows
7. Study Reveals Women Feeling Growing Financial Pressures on Family Life
8. Voting for Clinton Evokes Deep-Seated Feelings of Insecurity
9. Expressive writing appears to change thoughts and feelings about cancer
10. Boomers: Feeling Young or Fooling Themselves?
11. Feeling Stressed?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Dr. Jessica Barron, of Barron Family Dental ... dental patients and families in the North Metro Denver area. The new dental practice ... cosmetic dentistry, and all in the most relaxing environment. , While some dental visits ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... , ... February 10, 2016 , ... Gout is like ... brings pain that is often severe, with intense swelling and redness. It is triggered ... million people, but older adults are the most susceptible, according to the February 2016 ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Pediatric therapists ... their patients. Research shows that the Goal Attainment Scale (GAS) captures 20% more ... challenge and learn more about the Goal Attainment Scale, Education Resources Inc. is ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Everseat has joined ... readily available to physicians. The integration will enable Allscripts users to post open ... Everseat’s free mobile app. , The partnership gives Everseat substantial added power to ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... 10, 2016 , ... Workrite Ergonomics, who is celebrating their 25th year of ... to being an internationally recognized leader in their industry. , "We are very proud ... President of Workrite. “Workrite recognized the importance of good ergonomics before most of ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... 2016  Silicon Biosystems Menarini Inc., a developer ... uncover the biological complexities of disease at the ... of innovative technologies for genomics research, today announced ... enabling translational researchers to obtain high-quality sequencing results ... and normal cells in an optimized and seamless ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... -- Until recently, the options for reducing the appearance of ... approved the non-invasive Coolsculpting treatment, which removes fat cells ... in 2010 for the abdomen and this approval was ... this add-on approval, the experts at Laser Therapy Health ... CoolMini, to address smaller areas of fat. ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... 2016 --> ... and Companion Diagnostic Market to 2019 - Strategic ... research report indicates that the core personalized medicine ... 2020 growing at a CAGR of 8.74%. This ... targeted therapeutics and is dominated by oncology, cardiovascular ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: