Aussie Survey Points to Possible Memory Boosters
> 8/28/2006 9:27:12 AM

Harnessing the power of the web to perform large surveys has advantages and disadvantages. Veracity becomes a question immediately as there is a whole segment of the population that likely will not have access by virtue of not being able to reach a computer (Australia has about 2.8 million internet subscribers for a population of just over 20 million). On the other hand however, these type of web based surveys can cast a much wider net for very little overhead, and as long as the possible skewing is taken into account during analysis, useful data can certainly be drawn out of the results.

In recognition of Australia'sNational Science Week, the now 9 year old national celebration sponsored by the Department of Education, Science and Training along with other groups, Australian researchers organized the massive survey that attracted 29,500 respondents. The study asked subjects to provide information on a broad variety of topics: from eating habits to exercise regimen to media consumption. Each then took a short memory test, which you can take here.

As Reuters reports, the results paint a picture of casual links between habits and behaviors and strong performance on the memory test. Increased television viewing, alcohol consumption and overall poor health translated generally into lower scores, while those who did crosswords or ate fish once a week generally performed better at some memory tasks. These remain, however, only casual associations as the results have not been tested for their statistical significance and the links cannot be proven in one direction or another (folks with good memories may enjoy crosswords as opposed to crosswords actually facilitating memory improvement).

Nevertheless, the test provides an interesting look into large scale surveying over the web. It also is a fun application that allows you to test your own memory and then compare your results to those of the overall study. We at AADT used to hold our memory in rather high regard, but were revealed to be average at best. Guess we'll just have to stock up on some fish.

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