11/25/2005

Not Ditzy, Just Imaginative

You ever have those moments when you can't remember the name of the person standing in front of you? Or you can't remember where you placed your keys? Or in my case, always forgetting your house key? I have to keep my house key on a separate key chain from my car keys because I am inclined to lock myself out of my car as well as my house. I not ditzy, just highly imaginative, at least according to a new study.

People like me have trouble ignoring all that we see. We can't seem to block out all that visual input.

Researchers measured brainwaves as objects popped into the minds of the test subjects, who watched colored rectangles appear on a computer screen. In one experiment, researchers told the subjects to focus on two red rectangles and ignore two blue ones.

Without exception, one group had all the rectangles in mind, while another group of individuals -- who were already deemed to have high memory capacity -- consistently excelled at dismissing the blue rectangles.

"People differed systematically, and dramatically, in their ability to keep irrelevant items out of awareness," said study leader Edward Vogel of the University of Oregon.

Vogel thinks of this ability to focus as akin to having a thought bouncer in the brain, managing crowd control. The results, detailed in the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Nature, suggest ways to improve memory abilities.

"Being 'scatterbrained' is often a symptom of a hectic modern life in which we are often overcommitted, overworked, and inundated with information," Vogel told LiveScience. "Given such an environment, it would not be surprising if many of our important cognitive control processes become overtaxed and less efficient. Attentional training may be able to improve one's ability to bounce irrelevant information from awareness."

Imagine that

Not that the lack of a bouncer is necessarily bad thing.

"There may be advantages to having a lot of seemingly irrelevant information coming to mind," Vogel points out. "Being a bit scattered tends to be a trait of highly imaginative people."Yahoo News

I'll have to remember this the next time I have to call my son to get his house key or ask my neighbor to "break" into my house for me or call my brother to help me unlock my car. I'm not ditzy, just very, very imaginative.

2 Comments:

Blogger patrickafir said...

The human brain: 100 billion┬▒ neurons, trillions┬▒ of synaptic connections, and 20 million billion┬▒ computations per second. Sometimes it's not a matter of not having enough to think with, but rather too much.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous seawitch said...

patrickafir,

Made me feel better after reading the article.

5:40 AM  

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