Spatial Memory and its Impact on Knowledge Retention

By |2020-06-30T10:13:16-04:00June 24th, 2020|Blog|

As Saganworks continues to develop our 3D organization platform for content, we thought it would be good to provide some context as to how spatial memory is used by individuals and the impact it has on our ability to retain and recall knowledge.  

Spatial Memory as Infants

From the time we are babies, we are unknowingly incorporating our spatial memory to make sense of things around us.  Research has shown that as soon as 6 months old, infants are using visual landmarks to determine their position and are using spatial context to understand where they are located.   This type of learning helps us get around in our environment – the house, the yard, the town, the globe.  Researchers have identified that a certain part of the brain, the hippocampus, is activated during this type of learning and retention and is used for both short and long-term memory functions that help us get around.

Spatial Memory for Knowledge Recall 

What researchers are also understanding is that this form of memory isn’t just used for helping us navigate around in the world, it is being used by many to organize and recall knowledge and content.  One example of this is when someone loses their keys and place themselves in the room mentally and begin to re-trace their steps to recall the last place they put their keys.  This technique is creating a space (the room where you think you lost your keys) with images from the room appearing in your mind so you can “walk around” searching for your keys. 

A recent Ted Talk by Joshua Foer provides  some great examples from his research on memory using imaging and spatial context for recall.  His research followed memory champions to try to understand what made them distinct from those with average recall.  The answer was that these champions were using the part of the brain that invoked spatial memory.  Foer stated that this type of use of visual context to be used for knowledge retention has been around for centuries.  The term “memory palace” was used in ancient times to recall events by visualizing spaces in the mind and the people in those spaces.  Foer went on to practice these techniques of memory palaces – and became a memory champion in the US (yes there’s such a competition).  His book Moonwalking with Einstein is a great read for those wishing to learn more on the topic.

Another recent study involved the use of 3D VR technology for the study of a second language.  It compared students that used traditional desktop language learning techniques to 3D virtual reality teaching methods.  Spatial memory is related to virtual memory in that it presents users with 3D space to navigate in and immerses the senses with images and interactive exercises to learn a new language.  It was found that students using this technique scored higher in memory retention and scored higher in terms of overall learning enjoyment and motivation to learn.  

Implication for Using Saganworks for 3D Content Organization

We provide this context for you so you can understand the value in developing rooms using Saganworks.  People can recall and retain information more effectively if they develop a visual diagram – a room if you will – to organize information.  It could be for a student, an executive office (as shown in the screen capture), an art gallery, a yoga studio, an HR department, a museum, or for an individual organizing their photos.  Saganworks can be an add-on to the traditional method of document organization – folders.  Imagine using a 3D room to organize your work plans for the day, to create a gallery of photos to share, to lay out an onboarding session for new employees, a memorial to share memories of a lost relative.  This interactive, immersive space draws people in, creating a more enjoyable experience as they learn and review information.  

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  • May 2018 How Spatial Presence in VR Affects Memory Retention and How Spatial Presence in VR Affects Memory Retention and Motivation on Second Language Learning: A Comparison of Motivation on Second Language Learning: A Comparison of Desktop and Immersive VR-Based Learning Desktop and Immersive VR-Based Learning — Yeonhee Cho Syracuse University 
  • Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything- Joshua Froer

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