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Remembering Together: Are 2 Heads Better than One?

Are two heads better than one? Maybe. Perhaps this doesn’t come as a surprise, because we all know on some level that even one “head” can be better than others in terms of memory. New research into “group memory,” or “social memory” sheds some light on how remembering together can be more or less effective. In part, it depends on the group’s “executive functioning”.

Memory research has come a long ways since the early research many of us learned in psychology classes. There is the famous Bell Laboratories research into short-term memory which resulted in the famous axiom of “7 plus or minus two” – which refers to how many “slots” we can utilize “in our head” in real-time, keeping it there to “process,” sequence, manipulate.

This is essentially considered “working memory” in the new parlance, but this early research is the basis for our (original) 7-digit telephone number. Beyond that (i.e., with the introduction of area codes) those whose limit is recalling 7 digits comfortably, learned to “chunk” the information so that 212 or 415 area codes were remembered as a unit, so as to take only slot. Essentially, this is human RAM, while other reasoning skills rely on this as part of our larger “processor.”

Now back to humans and human memory…


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