Melanie Karniewich ’25
Memory plays an important role in our brain function, allowing us to register events and remember them for later use. Certain key factors play a strong role in the quality of our working memory capacity, such as processing and storage, problem-solving, and conscious control of what we find fit to remember. Dr. Lauren Richmond, an assistant professor at Stony Brook University, and colleagues studied the connection between processing and storage using data from participants performing numerous tasks in math, reading, recall, and consistent judgments.
The data collected came from undergraduate psychology students at four colleges: Stony Brook University, Arizona State University, California State University Sacramento, and Temple University. A total of 1,685 participants were asked to remember letters, do simple math, and finally recall the letters they had previously memorized. On a scale of 0-1, they demonstrated a range of 0.77 to 0.92 processing and storage accuracy. In the next section (only tested on Arizona State University participants), participants read a few sentences, judged if they made sense, and were then asked once more about the series of letters they had memorized. They yielded a range of 0.81 to 0.83 processing and storage accuracy. Lastly, participants were asked to make controlled judgements, followed by questions about remembering specific locations which they answered with 0.91 to 0.92 processing and storage accuracy. Each one of these trials tested the dynamic between processing and storage for the capacity of one’s memory, as they were given one task and asked to recall another. Across the data received in the three different tasks, the researchers concluded from the small differences in the processing and storage final results that there is a correlation between the two. The results support the theory of how performing tasks can produce a reliable memory capacity with high levels of processing and storage; in other words, keeping your brain active will allow for a strong memory.
The study conducted by Stony Brook University’s Dr. Lauren Richmond and fellow researchers highlights the importance of psychological awareness of recollection to memory– what goes into the processing and storage. For college students, these findings have important implications for how to recall certain things, remember information for a test, or keep track of tasks to accomplish in a day. If there is a way to spread knowledge about committing simple concepts to memory, there must be a way to strengthen a person’s memory capacity for the future.
 L. Richmond, et al., Performance on the processing portion of complex working memory span tasks is related to working memory capacity estimates. Behavior Research Methods 54, 780-794 (2022). Doi: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-021-01645-y
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