Practice Makes Perfect

Visual learning may help the brain stay sharp

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Why is that we remember certain things, while other things that we probably should remember we always forget? Memory can be so fickle, but with a little practice maybe that can change.

Sometimes it can seem like your mind has a mind of its own. As you age, certain memories fade and some stick with you, but which ones? Researchers may have found a link between visual imaging and memory.

"Seeing things many times will help you remember them."

Lead author, Zahra Hussain, a research fellow at the University of Nottingham, and her team studied the effects visual learning had on memory. They found that perceptual learning – seeing visual patterns or faces – provided very precise and long-lasting memories.

For two days, fifteen participants were asked to visually identify certain faces and abstract patterns that they looked at for only two hours. Accuracy rates were low at the beginning, but with practice, participants were more likely to identify the correct faces and patterns.

After more than a year - 13 to 15 months - of not seeing the faces or patterns, participants were asked to perform the same task again. Accuracy rates were high when researchers showed the original image, but rates dropped when new images that closely resembled the learned ones were shown.

This study provides great promise for brain training, says Patrick Bennett, a co-author of the study and professor and Canada Research Chair in Vision Science in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavior, but more research needs to be done to optimize the ability to remember the things we deem most valuable, he concludes.

The research is published in the journal of Psychological Science.

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Review Date: 
June 28, 2011
Last Updated:
June 28, 2011