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Research Fellows Directory

Ilja Sligte

Dr Ilja Sligte

Research Fellow


University of Birmingham

Research summary

Wouldn’t it be great to have photographic memory? No need to take pictures when you see something beautiful, as you’ll just store a complete picture in mind. Why don’t we all have this ability? Actually, all humans have photographic memory; it’s called “iconic memory”. However, it lasts only for a fraction of a second. In addition, we keep information online in “working memory” for longer periods of time. Yet, working memory capacity is limited to a few objects. Why is our visual memory limited in time or in capacity? And can we somehow unleash these restrictions?

Using brain imaging, we have found a link between iconic memory lifetime and rhythmic activity in visual cortex. In addition, using very weak electrical current over visual cortex we have shown that iconic memory capacity can be altered. Right now, we are performing experiments using brain stimulation to increase working memory capacity.

As iconic memory and working memory form the building blocks for visual perception and cognition respectively, the outcomes of this research will create possibilities to improve visual memory in patients and people with disabilities with electrical stimulation techniques that are extremely safe and minimally invasive.

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Boosting visual short-term memory

Scheme: Newton International Fellowships

Dates: Jan 2013 - Dec 2014

Value: £101,000

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