A 40 second rehearsal may be how to improve memory retention
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Find yourself constantly forgetting stuff?
Rehearsing a memory for just 40 seconds could be the secret to making it permanent, according to psychological research.
Psychologists have found that we use the same area of the brain to both lay down a new memory and rehearse that same memory.
That brain region — the posterior cingulate — helps us to:
- Recall the details of an event; and
- Integrate the memory into our existing knowledge.
That integration helps make memories resistant to forgetting.
Dr Chris Bird, who led the research, said:
We know that recent memories are susceptible to being lost until a period of consolidation has elapsed.
In this study we have shown that a brief period of rehearsal has a huge effect on our ability to remember complex, lifelike events over periods of 1-2 weeks.
We have also linked this rehearsal effect to processing in a particular part of the brain — the posterior cingulate.
In the study people watched 26 YouTube clips.
Some videos were rehearsed for 40 seconds, others were not.
Two weeks later, people remembered rehearsed videos. Non-rehearsed videos were mostly forgotten.
It didn’t matter if rehearsing was done mentally or out loud.
Brain scans revealed that the more the activity matched when watching and rehearsing, the more people could remember.
Dr Bird said:
The findings have implications for any situation where accurate recall of an event is critical, such as witnessing an accident or crime.
Memory for the event will be significantly improved if the witness rehearses the sequence of events as soon as possible afterwards.
The study was published in the Journal of Neuroscience (Bird et al., 2015).
Image credit: Bird et al 2015
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