What makes certain objects more memorable, asks a recent paper(1). The general observation that regardless of diverse experiences of humans, they tend to remember or forget similar things, is puzzling. Memorability, thus, is a feature of the object regardless of the observer. Although it makes intuitive sense that we tend to remember most prototypical or most atypical objects, the paper suggests there is more to the idea.
One of the observations is that semantic features dominate over visual dimensions. One interesting question is whether this is different in modern humans compared to their ancestors. Is it a sign that the human brain is evolving from the raw structure to more complex questions? Body parts or medicine related objects show much higher level of memorability compared to metals and tools. For a species who got here only because of the tools they invented last millennia, it is a striking contrast. Is the brain pulling away from needs to aspirations? Is it leaving the conventional and moving to abstractness?
One area of future research could be the societal implications of these findings. If memorability is a feature independent of the observer then how does it play into human decision-making and policy more generally? How does a policy maker control for her memories in reaching optimal choices? It is not the bias of the individual that is concerning, rather, it is the bias of the human. The latter, it appears, is unavoidable.