Filtering out useless information can help people increase their capacity to remember what is really important, researchers said on Wednesday.
Scientists at the University of Oregon have demonstrated that awareness, or visual working memory, does not depend on extra storage space in the brain but on an ability to ignore what is irrelevant.
“Until now, it’s been assumed that people with high capacity visual working memory had greater storage, but actually it’s about the bouncer -- a neural mechanism that controls what information gets into awareness,” said Edward Vogel who headed the research team.
The findings reported in the journal Nature would overturn the accepted concept of memory capacity, which has suggested that how much a person can remember depends on the amount of information crammed into the brain at one time.
Vogel and his team believe the results could lead to better ways to enhance memory and improve the diagnosis and treatment of cognitive problems such as attention deficit disorder and schizophrenia.