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Normal People can Only Remember Four Things at a Time

Psychologists that the University of Oregon say that the capacity of short-term memory is a strong predictor of an individual's IQ level and scholastic achievement .

A study conducted by them has shown that an average person can think only about four items at a time, but people with high IQ levels can remember more articles.

Professor Edward Awh and Professor Edward Vogel of the university conducted laboratory experiments to test their hypothesis that the memory capacity might be influenced by the complexity of items being stored, something that might cause a four-item limit for most people.

The study showed that even when very complex objects had to be remembered, the participants who ranged in age from 18 to 30 years still were able to hold four items in active memory. However, the clarity of those items was not perfect, points out Professor Awh.

It was also found that some people had much clearer memories than others.

"While it seems reasonable that people who think about more things at once might also have clearer memories than average, we found that this assumption was not the case," Professor Vogel said.

Professor Awh, the lead author of the study published in the journal Psychological Science, also says that the same people who can remember a lot of objects at one time do not necessarily have clearer memories of those objects.

"Knowing the number of things a person can remember tells you nothing about how clear a person's memory may be," said Professor Awh.

"So even though people with high IQs can think about more things at once, there are not guarantees about how good those memories might be," the researcher added.


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