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New Study Finds People Remember More Than They Think 172

An anonymous reader writes "A new study has shown that people subconsciously retain information about things they've seen even if they can't consciously remember. From the article: 'Luis Martinez of CSIC- Miguel Hernandez University in Spain and his team "read minds" with the Princess Card Trick, an act invented by magician Henry Hardin in 1905. Participants in the study mentally picked out a playing card from a group of six cards, which then disappeared. When a second group of cards appeared, the researchers had amazingly figured out which card a person had in mind and removed it. Very few people caught the trick: All of the cards in the second set were different, not just the card that people had chosen. This trick is well-known to confuse the masses, even via the Internet a magician's sleight of hand can make it seem as though he/she legitimately "read your mind" A few moments after viewing the two panels of cards, volunteers were asked which of two new cards was present in the first set of cards. None of the volunteers could actually recall which card was present. Despite claiming that they had no idea, when they were forced to choose, people got the right answer around 80 percent of the time. “People say they don’t know, but they do,” Martinez said. “The information is still there, and we can use it unconsciously if we are forced to.”'"
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New Study Finds People Remember More Than They Think

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  • by Pastor Jake ( 2510522 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @09:06PM (#38093626)
    This doesn't surprise me at all. God chooses for us what we can and can't remember, and it is through His will that our memories come to us in the time we need them most. Yours in Christ, Jake
    • The new Doctor Bob?

    • by oztiks ( 921504 )

      I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact we remember more than we think ... Isn't memories a form of thinking ... Therefore you can't remember more than you think because thinking is the act of recalling the memory you've thought of?

      • by skids ( 119237 ) on Friday November 18, 2011 @01:54AM (#38094918) Homepage

        Put it this way: you remember some things by thinking. Other things you remember by intuition/instinct. You remember summarized results, rather than the all the individual addends. Sort of like a bloom filter. []

        Learning to trust your instincts can definitely improve your ability to do things speedily without having to look up all the details about how to do it, and some people don't use enough of this capacity. It's a double-edged sword though -- the trouble comes when you get too comfortable with your instincts and start following spurious random background noise.

        • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

          That might explain part of PTSD. Soldiers learn to avoid "dangerous" situations which make sense in a occupation or combat context - a large area full of civilians with lots of cover for a potential attacker, for instance. They see people get killed because they weren't paying attention in a marketplace in the Middle East. Then, they get home to a what we could all call a vastly safer place but they still have their internal warning bells going off.

          • by oztiks ( 921504 )

            Being a martial arts teacher, this is the basis to our training. Repetitive training of movement is retraining the autonomic nervous system, stimulus (aggressive postures from an opponent) triggers an instinctive response (defense).

            The concept behind this is that the delay made by conscious thinking becomes a problem / liability to your capability to defend yourself, your unconscious self circumvents the delay, sort of like UDMA between your HDD and RAM, if you have to pass the data via the CPU it causes a

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This doesn't surprise me at all. God chooses for us what we can and can't remember, and it is through His will that our memories come to us in the time we need them most.

      Yours in Christ,

      Leave them kids alone pastor-pedo.

  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @09:07PM (#38093632)

    They remember me when they need a ride to and from the airport, but they can't remember to pay me back the money they've borrowed.

  • by Ossifer ( 703813 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @09:19PM (#38093692)

    I think more than I remember...

  • by Afell001 ( 961697 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @09:58PM (#38093908)
    They say the first thing to go is your memory and the second...well, dammit, I keep forgetting the second...
  • Are they really remembering?
    Or are they just making the same choice twice?

    • Memory is a field that can do with a lot more research, obviously.

      There is also this controversial issue of recalling memories under hypnosis. There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that it is possible to recall memories while hypnotised, but there is also the risk of implanting memories.

      The Mythbusters tackled this issue some time ago, and in their test (which afaict was done pretty soundly - at least they always try to do this type of experiments in a scientifically sound manner and with the help of exper

      • Repressed or hidden memories are a physical impossibility based on the understanding we presently have of memory. In order for such memories to exist they would have to be disconnected from the network of neurons that encompass our entire life's memory. Which would require a completely knew mechanism for memory that hasn't yet been discovered. The current understanding is that the more connections a memory has the stronger it is and the more likely it is to be recalled. In order for something to be represse

        • by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:49PM (#38094458)

          Repressed or hidden memories are a physical impossibility based on the understanding we presently have of memory.

          Yet many people tend to completely forget things, only to recall it later.

          Recent example, of one of the US president hopefuls: "the government departments that I want to close are a, b, and euhm..." and a while later he remembered it again.

          The memory was obviously still there, yet for a while couldn't be recovered. I have similar experiences myself, you surely have too. Like standing in front of an ATM and drawing a blank on your decade-old PIN code... try an hour later and it's back no problem. Why was that memory suddenly gone? How come later it's back again?

          This sounds to me like "hidden memories" that need some kind of trigger to recover. And as you rightfully remark, impossible based on our current understanding of the workings of the brain. It's so mighty complex, our understanding of how it works is probably just the very beginning.

          • Sometimes, when something like that happens, it is your subconscious mind trying to get your attention, and tell you that whatever it is that you are trying to do that requires that particular memory right then is, from his point of view, a really, really bad idea.

          • Brain farts are not the same as repressed memories. What you describe is very shortly forgotten knowledge, and you still know you know it. A repressed memory is something you can not even remember ever knowing at any point.

          • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )
            One of my favorite moments of this was when my brother actually forgot my name. He chewed on it for a while, then finally decided he should give up and just ask. So he turned to me and said, "Ross, what's your name?" because even though he couldn't *think* of it, somehow reflexively he could just interject it into a sentence. It's a priceless memory we still joke about on occasion.

            I can also think of several other really spectacular incidents that seemed life-altering in the moment, but which I'd soon f
  • People do almost everything more than they think.
  • Radiolab - Falling (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @11:08PM (#38094230)
    The Radiolab show on "Falling" had a bit on this. The "time stands still" experience you get from near death experiences is because later you can consciously remember far more than normal.
    • The "time stands still" experience you get from near death experiences is because later you can consciously remember far more than normal.

      So, what makes your brain kick into that mode? Just adrenaline? Can we reduce this to pill form, so I can take it during meetings to help pay attention?

  • by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Friday November 18, 2011 @02:27AM (#38095022) Journal
    Sometimes we remember things that didn't happen.
  • Three recent examplea to the contrary come to mind. Perry fumbled with the third department he'd shut down, correct? I just want to make sure we are talking about the same thing before I say yes or no. Herman Cain had a memory lapse on Libya, and definitely didn't remember more than we thought. The third case, no that was a different one. Sorry, got all this stuff twirling in my head. What was TFA about again?

  • If my brain is only 80% sure that a remembered fact is accurate, I'm glad the result is "I don't know" when I try to remember it. People don't "remember more than they think", but the brain apparently stores a lot of junk that doesn't meet it's built-in (or trained) criteria for proper remembrance. Big surprise there...

    What would be interesting is to see how the level of certainty needed to remember something changes over time and whether it is actually something that is taught or inherently built into the

  • there are known knowns, unknown knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns.
  • They say more than they remember...

  • Couldn't read the article, was the right answer none of them that 80% got right?
  • Most people do many other things more than they think. In fact, thinking is probably one of those activities people do least.

  • by UniAce ( 713592 ) on Friday November 18, 2011 @01:31PM (#38100374) Homepage
    I am a scientist (i.e., experimental psychologist) who studies human memory. What is described here is simply the difference between a recall task [] and a recognition task []. Roughly: in a recall task, you have to produce information from memory given some cue; in a recognition task, you are given the information and you have to judge whether it was previously encountered. It is extremely well-know and well-documented in the scientific literature that recognition performance is almost always better than recall performance. In everyday terms, you may not be able to recall the name of a childhood friend, but you may be able to recognize that name among a list of alternatives. The difference between recall and recognition performance is just one kind of demonstration that the entirety of information stored in human memory is indeed much greater than what can be accessed at any given time.
  • by LibRT ( 1966204 ) on Friday November 18, 2011 @02:25PM (#38101072)
    I read a fascinating book on the topic, called "Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions" - highly recommend it - the authors investigate what happens from a neurological perspective when magicians perform tricks, and also how we routinely deceive ourselves about the "reality" we think we perceive (deceptions which magicians routinely rely upon).

Man will never fly. Space travel is merely a dream. All aspirin is alike.