Thursday, January 19, 2006

Filtering Out Useless Information

Scientists at the University of Oregon say that filtering out useless information can help people increase their capacity to remember what is really important. They have demonstrated that awareness, or visual working memory, doesn’t depend on extra storage space in the brain, but on an ability to ignore what is irrelevant. Edward Vogel, head of research, says that it’s always been assumed that people with high capacity visual working memory had greater storage. But he says it’s about a neural mechanism or bouncer that controls what information gets into awareness.
These findings would overturn the accepted concept of memory capacity which was suggested that how much a person can remember depends on the amount of information crammed into the brain at one time. Some people allow themselves to be inundated with distracting data. But, on the other hand, that very defect might help to make them more imaginative. Researchers found that the brain contains its own version of the nightclub “Bouncer” who keeps out unwanted riff raff. These results are said to have broad implications that may lead to more effective ways to maximize memory, as well as improve the treatment of problems associated with ADHD and schizophrenia.

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