This is why your memory is so poor

Could poor memory be told through the eyes?

Scientists at Stanford University believe that the secret to understanding why we forget certain pieces of information when trying to remember something.

Whether it’s something that you did earlier to a word on the tip-of-your-tongue, they wanted to figure out why some people have better memory than others, in addition to how “media multitasking” could be a factor in memory loss.

“As we navigate our lives, we have these periods in which we’re frustrated because we’re not able to bring knowledge to mind, expressing what we know,” said Anthony Wagner, a professor at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences, in a press release. “Fortunately, science now has tools that allow us to explain why an individual, from moment to moment, might fail to remember something stored in their memory.”

The study, published in the journal Nature, had 80 participants between the ages of 18 to 26 have their pupils measured and their brain activity tracked through an electroencephalogram — or EEG — to see how brain waves changed while doing memory drills, such as recollection or noticing changes to an item that was previously presented in the study.

Both the brain and pupils were purposely targeted because both areas react to memory, according to lead author Kevin Madore. The back of a skill can give clues into how attention lapses, mind wandering, and distractibility occur due to increases in alpha power, while pupil diameter can dictate reaction times and mind wandering.

Researchers also paid attention to attentiveness through tests. Media multitasking was gauging how individuals performed by using multiple devices, like watching TV and texting.

“The scientists then compared memory performance between individuals and found that those with lower sustained attention ability and heavier media multitaskers both performed worse on memory task,” a press release said.

While researchers wouldn’t say that multitasking with media causes attention and memory mishaps, the results show that it’s certainly worth more attention especially now. With remote working the new norm, workers have never been this connected before, which makes it something to ponder.

Wagner said that memory is dependent on “goal-directed cognition.” Think of it as setting a daily reminder or alarm to do something, like waking up on time for work in the morning. That reminder then makes memories capable.

“While it’s logical that attention is important for learning and for remembering, an important point here is that the things that happen even before you begin remembering are going to affect whether or not you can actually reactivate a memory that is relevant to your current goal,” Wagner added.

It’s an interesting study that can easily translate to the workforce. There are hacks that can help you remember more including two that come to mind: spaced repetition and the 50/50 rule, which dedicates 50% of time to learning something new and the remaining 50% on telling others what you’ve learned.