Memory researchers discuss their work at international event

  • Date

    Wed 20 Dec 17

Our staff and students had the opportunity to present their latest research findings at the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Vancouver.

Dr Vanessa Loaiza, from our Department, spoke about her latest research and our postgraduate students Paul Howlett and Charlotte Doherty also had the fantastic opportunity to talk about their work and get feedback from leaders in their field.

Paul is looking at how individual differences in working memory are known to correlate with other cognition, such as fluid intelligence.

He said: "I was nervous about presenting at first, but everyone was friendly which allowed me to enjoy the experience. Presenting helped increase my confidence, and the conference has inspired me to continue studying working memory."

Charlotte is looking at how people recall information and the impact of distraction. The experience of presenting her findings is helping to shape the write-up of her work.

“Some of the questions asked required me to think from a different perspective which in turn helped to further my own understanding,” Charlotte said. “This will be of great help when it comes to writing up the discussion for the experiment. Additionally I took the opportunity to ask questions myself regarding advice for the follow up research; I gained a range of different views which have been very insightful."

Memory researchers discuss their work at international event

Want to know more?

Our research students a really going digging down into key psychological concepts so we asked them for a little bit more about their work.

Paul’s study sought to distinguish two possible theoretical accounts for this relationship (executive attention and binding) by manipulating their demands in the same task. The results indicating that increasing the attentional demand of a working memory task (i.e., trying to remember colours of text that are either neutral or incongruent with the presented text, e.g. remembering red when it is presented as XXXX or BLUE, respectively) more strongly affected accurate recall of the colours than correct rejection of lures that signify binding errors (i.e., misremembering red in a different context in the trial). Both of these measures were correlated with fluid intelligence, suggesting attention and binding may have distinct roles in the working memory-intelligence relationship.

Although distraction is known to impair memory performance, studying information with distraction (as what occurs during a complex span task) improves long-term episodic memory compared to tasks without distraction (as what occurs during a simple span task), Charlotte’s project followed examined whether the way people immediately recall information from complex versus simple span changes this pattern. In general the findings showed that the effect was somewhat stronger when people had to recall information in its original serial order compared to freely recalling the information, suggesting that the presumed covert retrieval that participants do to maintain the information is cumulative in nature.