Thursday, May 10, 2012

Look Sharp! Can You Increase Your Memory by Looking Off to the Side? - PR Web (press release)

Montclair, NJ (PRWEB) May 10, 2012

Montclair State University Associate Professor of Psychology Ruth E. Propper is the Principal Investigator, or PI, on a three-year, $300,000 Department of Defense (DOD) contract that supports her ongoing research on the ways the brain retrieves memories. This research could help improve both soldiers’ memories of place names and locations in unfamiliar terrains and their navigation skills.

Propper’s work with the United States Army will build on findings published in the February 2012 issue of Brain and Cognition that focused on whether the left brain or right brain â€" or a combination of both â€" retrieves language-based and location-based memories. College undergraduates were asked to look to the left or to the right to test competing theories abut how the brain accesses these memories.

Her work validated two competing theories: the theory that suggests that the left brain retrieves both language or spatially based memories and the theory that suggests that the left prefrontal cortex retrieves location names while the right prefrontal cortex processes spatial location memories.

In practical terms, Propper says, “If you can’t remember where you parked your car, our study suggests you could look to the left to activate the right side of your brain’s spatial processing superiority or possibly look to the right to trigger the left side of the brain’s verbal labeling superiority and retrieve that memory."

Propper explained that her DOD contract supports continued research in this area. “One of our goals is to examine ways to alter hemispheric activity in order to improve performance on various memory tests. Unilateral gaze is one way we investigate this. Another way is to study unilateral muscle contractions.”

She believes that her research could help soldiers in the field. “By learning how to improve soldiers’ memories, we could ultimately improve our soldiers’ safety and maybe even save lives,” Propper said.

Montclair State University
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