In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Tracy Alloway of the University of North Florida explains how using social media can improve the performance of your memory.
Tracy Alloway is a professor of psychology at the University of North Florida where her research is focused on how working memory develops across the lifespan. Her research on memory has appeared in more than 250 articles.
Dr. Tracy Alloway – Social Media and Brain Exercise
Working memory brings together information from different parts of the brain so that we can use it. If you are thinking about information, then you are using your Working Memory. This is an important cognitive skill that impacts all areas of your life. For example, if you are at a job interview, and you get a curveball question, your Working Memory gives you an answer that combines what know about the company with your particular skill set. Result: Working Memory gets the job.
In my research, I found that some technology, like Facebook and computer training, boost Working Memory. I found that people who use FB more have better Working Memory. FB makes you think about information. Take the News Feed: you see all your friend’s updates and you have to make a choice about which is most interesting. You find an update about Mark’s coast to coast road trip, so you combine this fact with your summer schedule and make plans to meet up in Tennessee.
I have also done research on a brain training program called Jungle Memory. In clinical trials, I tested students with reading and math difficulties. I found that those who trained regularly with Jungle Memory showed fantastic improvements in Working Memory. But the most exciting thing was that their grades also improved—from a C to B; or a B to an A after just 8 weeks of training. Eight-months later—and they still maintained all these improvements. I am excited to be doing cutting-edge research on technology and Working Memory.