Working memory may compensate for lack of attention

A study in eNeuro shows that, when remembering a sequence of events, the brain focuses on the event paid the least attention, rather than replaying the events in the order they occurred. This finding suggests that attention during the initial encoding of a memory influences how information is manipulated in working memory.

Anna Jafarpour and colleagues presented adults with a series of three images to remember. After a five-second delay, participants were presented with one of the images and asked whether it was shown from the same perspective (front, left or right views) as in the original sequence and in what position (1, 2 or 3) the image had been presented.

The authors found that the image that generated the weakest response in the during encoding was most strongly replayed during the delay period.

This result may indicate that the brain addresses the limitations of working by focusing on the event that requires the most effort to remember.

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More information: Working memory replay prioritizes weakly attended events , eNeuro, DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0171-17.2017
Citation: Working memory may compensate for lack of attention (2017, August 14) retrieved 20 June 2019 from
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Aug 14, 2017
Alternatively, the image that required the most attention to process also had the heaviest use of the short term memory OR the image that appeared readily available for review (because the brain assumed it was accessible because it saw it repeated times) is the one least encoded in memory. After all, why place in memory something which is readily accessible in real life? This dovetails into the already established behaviour whereby people do not remember things which they encounter constantly simply because they do not need to store in memory something which is readily available. The mind, so to speak, needs to get information. Given a choice between fuzzy memory and real life referent, the mind naturally chooses the high resolution version, the real one.

By analogy, if you lived in an orange grove perpetually in fruit would you pick and store oranges or simply take them from the trees whenever you needed them?

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