Here’s how to keep all that information crammed in your head: revising information immediately after it is provided helps make permanent memories, reveals a study from the University of Sussex. Psychologists suggest that similar areas of the brain are activated when one develops a memory, and when that memory is rehearsed.
The findings propose implications for various situations in which recalling information accurately are essential, such as witness accounts and reporting crimes.
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The research suggests that a brain region called the posterior cingulated is critically involved in creating permanent memories. This region is often damaged in patients with Alzheimer’s. The posterior cingulated not only helps in recalling episodic details, but also integrates memories into our knowledge making them difficult to forget.
Short videos of about 40 seconds, each with a narrative element, were shown to 26 participants. For instance, one video entitled ‘nasty neighbors’ showed two men playing practical jokes on one another. For 20 of the videos, the participants were given about 40 seconds after the video to recall, silently or loudly, the details of what they had seen. This was not done for the remaining six videos.
Results indicated that the participants could recall details of the videos they had rehearsed even after two weeks of seeing them. On the contrary, the non-rehearsed videos were mostly forgotten. More importantly, MRI scans showed that the posterior cingulated was significantly associated with the benefits of rehearsal.
The extent to which brain activity matched while watching and rehearsing the videos demonstrated how well the videos were memorized a week later. “We know that recent memories are most likely to being lost until a consolidation period has passed. In this study, we demonstrated how a brief period of rehearsal could have a huge effect on the ability to remember complex, lifelike events over 1-2 weeks. Moreover, we have also associated the effect of this rehearsal to a particular part of the brain, namely the posterior cingulated”, stated lead researcher Dr Chris Bird.
Dr Bird’s group of researchers is currently conducting research to assess how these processes are linked to memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease. The study was recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience.