Taking advantage of thatmonkeys show exactly the same limitation as humans, Earl Miller and his colleagues decided to study theNeurological Basis of Working Memory Limits. And they found that primates could process two visual elements with the left half of the brain and two with the right half. And that each hemisphere processes half of the visual space. If we extend the finding to humans, this implies thatwe can process two objects in each visual area, but if there are three objects to our right and one to the left, we will only remember two on the right and one on the left. “The bottleneck of visual memory is not in the memorization phase but in the perception phase,” concludes Miller. In other words, when the capacity of each brain hemisphere is exceeded, the information is not even processed by our brain, so it is impossible to remember it.
Immediate practical applications can be drawn from this finding, as suggested by the American neuroscientist. For examplemedical monitors that display information in one column should display it in two, one on the left and one on the right, so that the person looking at them can process more information. The same could be applied to information shown to security personnel at an airport or building.
The next challenge, the authors anticipate, will be to find out if this discovery about visual memory can beapply in other types of memory (verbal, sound …).