Where would we be without all the new gadgets. Names, phone numbers, directions, appointments we use digital devices to remember them. But were did I leave my iPhone, GPS, telephone? Before the gadgets we used to be looking for our keys, wallet, glasses. So Object–location memory is now even more vitally important for many daily-life activities.
How does the brain automatically process where important things are?
Characteristics of object–location memory:
- Object location is an important ability for evolution of mankind. Where did I leave my food, ax and so on. The use of tools and private material possessions has increased the need of this ability. Given its evolutionary relevance, it has been argued that spatial memory in general and object–location memory in particular would operate mainly in an automatic fashion
- It is influenced by age, with increasing age a decrease in object location becomes eminent and sex hormones also influence object location. Women excel on a test of location memory for objects
- Object–location memory directly connects to episodic memory, i.e. memory for personal events
Object–location memory consists of three main components: object processing, spatial-location processing, and object–location binding.
Object processing or Object identity memory might mainly depend on temporal-lobe structures, specifically in the right hemisphere. Object processing starts with the recognition of the object. The next step in object processing is keeping the recognized objects in memory. Object memory is less sensitive to brain damage in the hippocampal formation. Possibly, ventral cortical areas and prefrontal dorsolateral areas are important in remembering the target objects.
Spatial-location processing has been argued to be further broken down into an exact, metric position sense and a more relative, categorical sense of location. The former appears to include the right posterior parietal cortex. The latter seems to show a preference for the analogous part of the left hemisphere. It should be noted that there are also contributions from the prefrontal and hippocampal areas to spatial-location processing.
Object–location memory can be considered as a special class of episodic memory, reflecting a form of contextual memory in which object (identity) information has to be bound to location information. Episodic memory is often regarded as the highest form of human memory, allowing conscious recollection of events from one’s personal past.
For this the hippocampal formation is most critical.
Regarding the question how the relevant object location information enters the memory system, both attentional effort and automatic routines play a role, but we don’t know how yet.
Finding your IPhone is an important although complex procedure in which three steps for remembering the object location are important. Age and sex influences this ability, with increasing age retrieving important objects can become more difficult. Women excel in finding objects so ask your wife.
Nice to know all this but how to find your items?
There are simple habits that you can develop over time that will get you to where you want to be. These are habits that you can apply to your work, your home, your kids, your hobbies, your life. Instead of giving you specifics for how to organize something specific, like your desk or your closet, I provide principles that you can use over and over in every situation.
Instead of organizing your house or business by things, consider organizing them by tasks. Organizing by things means placing similar items together: pens and pencils here, reference manuals there.
One of the side effects of having so much stuff to help us get work done is dealing with the clutter it creates in our workspace. But just like you can defragment a hard drive—organize the bits and bytes so that related ones are closest to one another for faster access—you can also defrag your office to make it more efficient. Put your stuff out of the way but within reach, and make it easy to find and put back with a few workspace organization techniques.
It’s a great big world out there for a tiny thing like a lost iPod or cellphone. SendMeHome is a free web based application that generates unique ID tags for your items, so that should a good Samaritan find your lost item, a short trip to SendMeHome.com is all it takes to send you a message indicating that your item has been found and how you can get it back.
A POSTMA, R KESSELS, M VANASSELEN (2008). How the brain remembers and forgets where things are: The neurocognition of object–location memory Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 32 (8), 1339-1345 DOI: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2008.05.001