Improving Visual Memory with Auditory Input


Can input in one sensory modality strengthen memory in a different sensory modality? To address this question, we asked participants to encode images presented in various locations (e.g., a dog in the top left corner of the screen) while they heard spatially uninformative sounds. Some of these sounds matched the image (e.g., the word “dog” or a barking sound) while others did not. In a subsequent memory test, participants were better at remembering the locations of images that were encoded with a matching sound, even though these sounds were spatially uninformative – an effect that was mediated by whether the sounds were verbal or non-verbal. Because the sounds did not provide any relevant location information, better spatial memory cannot be attributed to auditory memory; rather, it is attributed to visual memory being strengthened by the matching auditory input. These findings provide the first behavioral evidence for cross-modal interactions in memory.

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