Need to Memorize Something? Audio Recall is Not Your Best Asset

Need to #Memorize Something? Audio Recall is Not Your Best Asset #memory

A new study by researchers at Univeristy of Iowa suggests you are far better at recalling information from some of your senses than others. Namely, people are wired to be much better at recalling sights and tactile sensations than audio information.

According to the study's press release:

"Participants were exposed to a variety of sights, sounds, and tactile sensations. They were then asked to listen to pure tones through headphones, look at various shades of red squares, and feel low-intensity vibrations by gripping an aluminum bar. Each set of tones, squares, and vibrations was separated by time delays ranging from one to 32 seconds.

Although student's memory declined across the board, when time delays grew longer, the decline was much greater for sounds and began as early as four to eight seconds after being exposed to them.

In a second experiment, the researchers tested participants' memory using stimuli they might encounter on an everyday basis. Participants listened to audio of dogs barking, watched silent videos of a basketball game, and touched and held objects blocked from view, such as a coffee mug. The researchers found that between an hour and a week later, students were worse at remembering the sounds they had heard, but their memory for visual scenes and tactile objects was about the same."

Need to #Memorize Something? Audio Recall is Not Your Best Asset #memory

Our minds are wired to excel at visual and tactile memory, but not auditory memory. On a practical level, this is good to keep in mind when you are trying to commit something to memory, or help others do the same.

When you are teaching somebody, try reinforcing the concepts with a visual aid. If you want to remember something, try creating an image of it. You can do this on paper, or in your mind's eye.

Encoding information as symbolic visuals in your imagination is a common technique used by memory competition participants. Joshua Foer, author of Moonwalking with Einstein, describes how in his popular TED talk.


By understanding and navigating our minds' strengths and weaknesses, we are better equipped to fulfill our goals. When it comes to memory, most people can achieve seemingly superhuman feats by leveraging the extraordinary strengths of the human brain.

The above post was lovingly crafted by Josiah Hultgren. Josiah Hultgren is Founder/CEO of MindFullyAlive, a Senior Lecturer at California Lutheran University, a NeuroCoach, and a practical neuroscience expert. He produces and curates mindfulness content designed to improve structure and functioning of the brain. His mission is to help create a more vibrant world and apply neuroscience in ways that help people reach their highest potential. The content was derived from the Neuro Coach Pro Certification Program training created by Mark Robert Waldman.


Achilles’ Ear? Inferior Human Short-Term and Recognition Memory in the Auditory Modality
Bigelow J, Poremba A (2014) Achilles’ Ear? Inferior Human Short-Term and Recognition Memory in the Auditory Modality. PLoS ONE 9(2): e89914. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089914