Washington: A new study has recently revealed that just seeing or hearing something isn't going to help people remember it.
According to Penn State psychologists people might have to "turn on" their memories in order to remember even the simplest details of an experience. This finding, which has been named "attribute amnesia," indicated that memory was far more selective than previously thought.
It was suggested that individuals are better at remembering details when they anticipate having to recall them in the future.
Attribute amnesia occurs when a person uses a piece of information to perform a task, but was then unable to report specifically what that information was as little as one second later.
The researchers pointed out that people's expectations play an important role in determining what they remember, even for information they are specifically using.
Brad Wyble, assistant professor of psychology, said that it seems like memory was sort of like a camcorder, if people do;t hit the "record" button on the camcorder, it's not going to "remember" what the lens is pointed at, but if they do hit the "record" button, in this case, they know what they're going to be asked to remember, then the information is stored.
Wyble and Hui Chen argued that this selective memory storage might be a useful adaptation because it prevents the brain from remembering information that is probably not important. The researchers plan to continue this line of research as they study whether people are aware of their own lack of memory.
The study is published online in the journal Psychological Science.