People who are familiar with asubject are better at remembering new information related to it, according to a new study done on Pokemon characters, which shows that it is possible to boost memory capacity.
Researchers also found a strong link between priorfamiliarity in long-term memory and visual short-term memorystorage capacity.
The human mind can store almost an infinite amount ofinformation offline and more importantly process a vast amountof information online in everyday life, said Weiwei Zhang,from the University of California, Riverside in the US.
These amazing capabilities are supported by a corecognitive function, working memory, that holds informationonline for a short period of time, so that we could engage invarious mental operations, said Zhang.
According to Zhang, for example, in active conversation,we need to remember the whole sentence in working memory tounderstand the other person.
Working memory has a small capacity that can bemaintained in the active mind.
As a result, this limited-capacity working memory becomesa bottleneck, limiting cognitive abilities such as creativityand fluid intelligence - like ability to solve new problems oruse logic in new situations. So the researchers asked if wouldit be possible to overcome the working memory bottleneck.
Researchers set to discover if the limited capacity ofworking memory could be increased by supplementing it withlong-term memory.
Most of the participants in the study were collegestudents at UC Riverside, therefore they were familiar withthe first-generation characters - released about 15 years ago- than with the more recent fifth-generation characters.
We wanted to take advantage of the participantsprevious - almost lifetime - experience with Pokemoncharacters, said Zhang.
Specifically, to compare their working memory of Pokemoncharacters that they are more familiar with - first-generationPokemon - with Pokemon characters that they are less familiarwith, like fifth-generation Pokemon characters, Zhang added.
Researchers assessed participants familiarity withPokemon by having them name a small set of Pokemon characters,then report how much they liked each character.
In a separate working memory task - they were flashedfive random characters fromt the popular animated seriesPokemon for half a second and asked to remember them inworking memory and hold the memory for one second.
In the subsequent test, participants were shown a Pokemoncharacter, which could be one of the previously presentedcharacters or a new one. Participants had to report whetherthey saw a new or old Pokemon.
The results showed that people remembered more Pokemoncharacters that they were familiar with than those with whichthey were less familiar.
The more familiar they were with Pokemon, the more Pokemoncharacters they could remember.
The study was published in the journal Memory and Cognition.