Brad Postle on WUWM:Wisconsin Researchers Talk Memory, As Nation Remembers Alex Trebek

Brad Postle

UW-Madison psychology and psychiatry professor and editor of “The Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience” Brad Postle says when you’re asked to remember something very specific, your brain goes through a process called contextual reinstatement.

“Essentially what that means is if you can put your brain into the same state that it was in when you first encountered that information, it’s more likely that you will be able to retrieve it,” Postle says. “The introspective experience of it, at least for me, is you get this sort of rapid flash of related information you encountered at a similar time, and the extent that you can jump from fact to fact to fact to get to that information you want to get to, seems to be the trick.”

Postle says in a mental competition, the winner may boil down to whose brain has the best processing speed. He says in technology, a newer computer usually works faster than an older one.

But Postle says for humans, “there is natural variability in the processing speed of any two people you might meet on the street. And then, we also know that factors like age and neurological disease can influence that. Factors like how much caffeine or alcohol, or other things you might have on board in your system might influence that.”

Excerpted from WMUM. Find the full story here.

January 8, 2021