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New Research on Memory From Psychological Science

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Read about new research published in Psychological Science that examines how we represent and search for things in memory.

Saved by a Log: How Do Humans Perform Hybrid Visual and Memory Search?
Jeremy M. Wolfe

Current theories of how humans perform concurrent visual and memory-based searches are based on very small set sizes and indicate a linear relationship between memory and visual set size and search time. However, if this linear relationship were applied to larger visual and memory set sizes, it would lead to prohibitively long search times. In several experiments, participants memorized 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, or 100 items and searched for them in displays containing 1-16 items. Search time varied linearly with visual set size but logarithmically with memory set size. This study sheds light on how concurrent memory and visual searches involving large sets of items can be conducted relatively quickly.

Early Learning Shapes the Memory Networks for Arithmetic: Evidence From Brain Potentials in Bilinguals

Elena Salillas and Nicole Y. Y. Wicha

Does the language in which you learn arithmetic affect how you perform it in adulthood? Spanish-English bilingual participants were shown simple multiplication problems written using numbers, Spanish words, or English words and were asked to indicate whether the provided answers to the problems were correct or incorrect. Electroencephalogram recording and response times were collected during the task. Response times and brain responses were larger for problems presented in the language in which participants had learned arithmetic. This suggests that memory networks for multiplication are formed when people first learn arithmetic concepts and that they are independent of language dominance in adulthood.

Simultaneous Control of Attention by Multiple Working Memory Representations

Valerie M. Beck, Andrew Hollingworth, and Steven J. Luck

Can observers can keep several representations active in visual working memory, or can only one representation can be fully active? Participants’ eye movements were monitored while they searched a screen of multicolored ‘C’s for a target ‘C’. They were given a single or a double color cue before each trial to help them narrow their search for the target. When participants saw double color cues they were told to search each color sequentially or to search both colors simultaneously. Those searching the colors simultaneously had no impairments in the time it took to find the target compared with those searching the colors sequentially. This indicates several templates can be activated sequentially or simultaneously depending on the task instructions.