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Do people have better visual or auditory memory?
Question Date: 2012-12-06
Answer 1:

We have eyes that take in visual information and ears that take in auditory information. The information that we pay attention to enters our working memory. Working memory is all of the information we can think about at once. This is different than long-term memory, which is all of the information we have in our head without consciously thinking about it. Working memory has two major parts: an auditory part and a visual part. These two parts are very limited in the amount of information they can hold at once. For example, if I read you a list of numbers and told you to immediately repeat them back to me, you could probably only repeat back about 7 numbers. This is an example of the limit of auditory memory. Because it is so easy to overload each part of working memory, it is good to distribute information across the two parts rather than putting too much pressure on one or the other. For example, if you are watching an animation on how lightning forms, the animation is being processed in the visual part of your working memory. If there were also text in the animation explaining each part, your visual working memory would be completely overloaded. Thus, it's better to present spoken narration with an animation, because that distributes the information across the two parts of working memory without overloading either one.

Information has to pass through working memory in order to get stored in long-term memory, so it's important not to try to take in more information than working memory can process.

It's hard to say whether visual or auditory memory is better-- they're just different! In general, people learn best when they construct new knowledge by organizing and integrating it with their prior knowledge. Whether information is presented with pictures or sound, that is the key to learning.

Answer 2:

Different people have different ways of remembering things more effectively than other people. Some remember what they see, others what they hear, and still others what they read, and still others yet what they do.

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