Excellent, excellent email here from Cristian Strat in response to last week's newsletter, "GSV#9: Get Things Off Your Head."
Here's Cristian -
Hey Sebastian! I was thinking about the impact of getting things off your head.
I'm not an expert but I was reading about Working Memory and the correlation between that and your general level of fluid intelligence and attention level. Apparently people can only hold about 5-7 bits of information at once for thought manipulations and reasoning. Apparently, being able to hold a few more things in your working memory makes a dramatic improvement in your thinking abilities. Consequently, a smaller capacity will make for an inferior thought process.
Now, when you try to keep things in your head (like "Don't forget to call mom at 4pm") while working, you effectively operate with a lower capacity Working Memory. You constantly have to refresh "Don't forget to call mom at 4pm". As an experiment, try to remember a 4 digit number while working on something.
Again, I know nothing about psychology, so don't take this as an educated opinion. It's just a persona theory. There's also an interesting parallel between your Working Memory and the Stack Memory of a running program.
Cristian shared two more notes -
Also, make it clear it's just a guess. It would be great if a real psychologist would chime in.
With regard to improving working memory, it doesn't seem there's a consensus among researchers. Only some recent papers claim it can be done. There's also a pretty good training game developed by a research group. Here's a link to the game, and a paper claiming the game works:
Awesome stuff Cristian, great observations and thanks for sharing those. Cristian's personal site is cristianstrat.com and he's a co-founder of http://summify.com/ - both definitely worth checking out.