Two heads aren’t always better than one when it comes to memory

April 30th, 2011 - 4:18 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, April 30 (ANI): An overview of memory research has suggested that people who memorize facts in groups remember less than solo students do.

The group as a whole remembers more than any single memorizer would have, but the people in the group fail to live up to their full memory potential, each recalling less than if they’d studied alone.

One way people in groups tend to disrupt each other’s memories is by encroaching on other’s study habits. Everyone has preferred methods of picking information out of their minds, so working with others can be distracting. And then there’s a phenomenon called “social contagion,” in which one group member brings up an error or “remembers” something that didn’t happen. Those erroneous memories can lodge in other group members’ brains as real.

The flip side of social contagion is error pruning, in which someone corrects another person’s phony recollection. Perhaps the most familiar helping hand of collaborative memory is the “cross cue,” in which someone jogs another person’s memory, bringing long-forgotten recollections to the surface.

Regardless of its pitfalls and benefits, collaborative memory fills an emotional need.

“When the other person cannot validate shared memories,” said Supama Rajaram, a psychologist at Stony Brook University in New York, “they are both robbed of the past.”

The overview appears in the April edition of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. (ANI)

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