10 Things You Didn’t Know About Human Memory

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Check out 10 uncommon facts about memory.

Many talk about “memory” as though it were a thing we have, like good teeth or bad eyes. In fact, our memories are a concept that makes us who we are. Here are 10 other interesting facts about it.

Number 10: Women’s memory is enhanced by a deep voice. Researchers from the University of Aberdeen King’s College in Scotland and McMaster University in Canada found that women were able to recall more information when given by a man with a deep baritone versus a man with a high-pitched voice. Male memories did not appear to be influenced by the pitch of a female’s voice.

Number 9: Looking away helps your memory. According to research from the University of Stirling in Scotland, by looking away from the person who asked a question, our memory is better equipped to kick in. It seems that human faces and expressions are mentally captivating to us and clutter our concentration.

Number 8: Seven is the magic number. Ever wonder why telephone numbers are 7 digits? Pioneer psychologist George A Miller theorized that our short term memory can hold around 7 items before we begin to forget them. Try it yourself. Have a friend make a list of 10 words or numbers. Read once and try to recall as many as you can. Most people top out at around 7.

Number 7: Left handed people have better memories and so do their off-spring according to a 2001 experiment published in Neuropsychology. One reason may be because left-handed people and their family members seem to have a larger corpus callosum, which are the bridges of neurons linking the brain’s two hemispheres.

Number 6: Bad memories can be erased using electroshock therapy. Marijn Kroes, a neuroscientist at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands found that by deliberately timing electroconvulsive shocks, they could interrupt patient’s memories of a disturbing event.

Number 5: You can be tricked into remembering things that didn’t happen. Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus has performed many studies including one where subjects were told they had met Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. This is impossible since Bugs is a not a Disney character. Approximately 20 percent of the participants truly believed the fake memories as their own.

Number 4: Insulin helps promote memory. We all know insulin is vital to regulating blood sugar levels, but scientists have also discovered that sniffing insulin seems to help those suffering with Alzheimer’s by improving their memory functions. More trials are needed, but experts feel results are promising.

Number 3: You can grow your brain for better memorization. A study done with London taxi cab drivers, over several years, showed that those who had been on the job the longest had grown a larger than normal hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory.

Number 2: Anomia. This is the technical word for when you are trying to remember something and “it’s on the tip of your tongue”.

Number 1: We have more storage in our brain than we need. Paul Reber, professor of psychology at Northwestern University says “The human brain consists of about one billion neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If your brain worked like a DVR in a television, you would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.”

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