WFY Today

How Should Information Be Memorized? Researchers Provide New Insight

Psychologists at Temple University and the University of Pittsburgh have recently undertaken research that has provided new insights into how we learn and remember experiences from our past.

The study, whichh was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, implies that, depending on what we’re attempting to recall, both changing what we study and spreading out our learning over time might be beneficial for memory.The benefits of separating study sessions have been demonstrated by a wealth of previous research.

Investigative Perspectives

Researchers from Temple and Pitt instructed participants in two tests to look at pairings of objects and scenes over and over again, either the same each time or the item remained the same but the scene was different each time.A novel approach to learning and memory research was used in one of the trials, where participants were instructed to learn and test their memory using smartphones.

This made it possible for researchers to assign individuals to learn in pairs over the course of a full day, more closely simulating how people actually acquire knowledge.

In the second experiment, data was gathered online in a single session by the researchers.“The combination of these two large-scale experiments allowed us to look at the timing of these’spacing effects’ across both long timescales—ffor example, hours to days—iin Experiment No. 1 versus short timescales—ffor example, seconds to minutes—iin Experiment No. 2,” said Emily Cowan, lead author of the PNAS paper and postdoctoral fellow in Temple’s Adaptive Memory Lab.

This allowed us to investigate the effects on memory of learning that occur from repeated study opportunities as well as from exact repetitions or variations on the material being learned.Put another way, by comparing these two designs, we could investigate how memory is affected when information is presented quickly versus over longer periods of time, such as seconds, minutes, hours, or days, when it comes to repetition in the real world, where certain aspects remain constant while others change.Researchers discovered that spaced learning improved item memory, as they had in earlier studies.

However, they also discovered that goods matched with distinct scenes had higher recall than those displayed with the same scene repeatedly. For instance, it can be beneficial to repeat a name while linking it with distinct details of a new acquaintance in order to help you remember their name.

Consequences for Upcoming Studies and Daily Education

The Pitt-Temple experiments are an example of fundamental memory study. According to Rottman, “it is difficult to give clear advice for things like studying for a test because the sort of material can be so different because of how nuanced memory is.” However, theoretically, our results ought to be broadly applicable to a variety of tasks, such as acquiring new vocabulary in a foreign language, studying for an exam, and recalling someone’s name and other details.

However, there are many variations among these kinds of assignments, so providing truly specific guidance on them is challenging. Further investigation would be required in order to offer more specific recommendations for every situation.

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