Most of us have experienced the vague feeling of knowing something without having any memory of learning it. This phenomenon is commonly known as a “gut feeling” or “intuition”; more accurately though, it is described as implicit or unconscious recognition memory, to reflect the fact that it arises from information that was not attended to, but which is processed, and can subsequently be retrieved, without ever entering into conscious awareness.
According to a new study, our gut feelings can enhance the retrieval of explicitly encoded memories – those memories which we encode actively – and therefore lead to improved accuracy in simple decisions. The study, which is published online in Nature Neuroscience, also provides evidence that the retrieval of explicit and implicit memories involves distinct neural substrates and mechanisms.
The distinction between explicit and implicit memory has been recognized for centuries. We know, from studies of amnesic patients carried out since the 1950s, that implicit memories can influence behaviour, because such patients can learn to perform new motor skills despite having severe deficits in other forms of memory. Thus, the term implicit memory refers to the phenomenon whereby previous experience, of which one is not consciously aware, can aid performance on specific tasks.Weiterlesen