Book Smart and Street Smart: What Can We Learn About Human Memory from Pokémon?

Lecture on memory by UCR psychology professor on Feb. 22

ORI Seminar Series presents a lecture on memory by Weiwei Zhang on Feb. 22.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( – How does existing long-term memory affect working memory? That will be the topic of discussion Wednesday, Feb. 22, for the fourth lecture in the 2016-17 Seminar Series hosted by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) within the Department of Research and Economic Development. The ORI series focuses on ethics and hot topics regarding research with human participants.

The lecture by Weiwei Zhang, psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside, “Book Smart and Street Smart: What Can We Learn About Human Memory from Pokémon?” focuses on his recent research paper “Familiarity Increases the Number of Remembered Pokémon in Visual Short-term Memory.” The paper was published in the journal, Memory and Cognition, and found a strong link between prior familiarity in long-term memory and visual short-term memory storage capacity. Zhang will include discussion of ethical issues he encountered and how he designed his research with these issues in mind.

“The two major components of human intelligence, fluid, and crystallized intelligence, have been linked to working memory and long-term memory, respectively,” Zhang explained. “Although the two memory systems are traditionally believed to operate independently, some recent research suggest close interactions between the two systems. We conducted a series of experiments assessing how existing long-term memory affects working memory using Pokémon characters.”

Weiwei Zhang

The results of the study suggest that prior stimulus familiarity increases the speed and the amount of information we could process on a moment-by-moment basis. In other words, book smart could lead to street smart.

Zhang received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Iowa. He joined UCR in 2012. The research program in Zhang’s laboratory focuses on perception, memory, and higher cognition using multiple cognitive neuroscience methods, including eye tracking, EEG, non-invasive brain stimulation, and fMRI.

The seminar is free, and open to the public. It will take place at 2 p.m. in HUB 355. Light refreshments will be served.

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