We often hear the joke “He/she can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” To us this joke usually means that person is not smart enough to perform more than one action at a time. In reality, however, how well do all of us process information as we multi-task? Can we walk, talk and memorize what we hear at the same time?

Dr. Dee Way, PhD, an amateur actor and student in experimental psychology, studied actors, how they learn scripts, and if walking around as they were learning had any effect on their memory performance.

We take our verbal memory skills for granted every day, and it can vary widely from one person to another. Professional actors specialize in accurate verbatim learning of prose, so they could possibly provide insight into how our brain processes verbal memory.

Way’s research initially recorded in detail one professional actor’s method of learning a part. She found the actor worked best in a relaxed, calm and quiet environment, and used association to personal information in order to recall things that were more difficult to learn. He also used his own version of mnemonics by replacing key words with nonsense ideas to reiterate the correct wording he needed to learn.

The actor also examined the language of the text – questioning why certain words were used, how it was phrased, the relationships between the characters, the moods, character temperaments and other necessary relevant information that would help him to understand what the writer was trying to convey.

These experiments concluded that it didn’t make a difference whether the actor was seated or moving around as to their memory performance.

Way then employed another technique to test the effect of walking on verbal memory. She observed that the initial actor liked to walk around as a way to characterize the mood of the text and the speed of the thought, so she went to the London Actor Centre to test professional actors, as well as connected with amateur actors, university students and trainee actors to see if there was any difference in their learning abilities.

She found professional actors had no variation in their learning – whether seated or walking. In addition, their learning abilities were no better than the others, male or female.

She did find out, interestingly enough, that female students with no acting experience found it significantly harder to remember material while walking. Women professional actors, however, actually learned verbal prose just as easily as their male counterparts, which suggests that experience may be an important factor learning ability.

The physical differences in the nerve pathways within male and female brains could be the reason for the discrepancy. Women process information by utilizing more areas of their brain, while men restrict their brain activity to more distinct areas. In other words, combining activity (like walking or talking) with memory is more likely to be two distinct processes in men, but overlap in brain activity in women.

This article was shared by two-time USA Memory Champion, memory training expert and memory keynote speaker, Ron White.






Psysorg.com – Walking, talking and memory, by Dr. Dee Way: http://www.physorg.com/news177232036.html