Category Archives: Memory

Intel Persistent Memory Event: Live Blog

It's a Live Blog! More Optane in bound, looks like Apache Pass.

Intel Persistent Memory Event: Live Blog

It's a Live Blog! More Optane in bound, looks like Apache Pass.

Researchers claim to have transferred a memory between two sea slugs

Enlarge / An Aplysia, also known as a sea hare. (credit: Jerry Kirkhart)

How does a brain hold on to a memory? There’s evidence for a number of processes, from potentially transient changes in gene expression, through long-term changes in DNA packaging, and up to alterations of the connections among cells. Complicating matters further, none of these processes is mutually exclusive, so all of them might be involved in one context or another.

That complexity makes one of this week’s headline stories—”Memory Transferred between Snails,” to use one example—a bit surprising. If it were that easy, doesn’t it imply memories have to be relatively simple?

The researchers behind the headlines did something impressive, but it certainly wasn’t transferring a memory as we typically think of it. As we’ll explain here, the work tells us something about one element of memory, but it probably won’t end the debate about which processes let us recall familiar faces and places.

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Packets over LAN are all it takes to trigger serious Rowhammer bit flips

Enlarge / Researchers used a 10Gbps network card like this one in a Rowhammer attack that needed only packets sent over a LAN to work. (credit: Mellanox)

For the first time, researchers have exploited the Rowhammer memory-chip weakness using nothing more than network packets sent over a local area network. The advance is likely to further lower the bar for triggering bit flips that change critical pieces of data stored on vulnerable computers and servers.

Until now, Rowhammer exploits had to execute code on targeted machines. That hurdle required attackers to either sneak the unprivileged code onto the machines or lure end users to a website that hosted malicious JavaScript. In a paper published Wednesday, researchers at the Vrije Universitat Amsterdam and the University of Cyprus showed that standard packets sent over networks used by many cloud services, universities, and others were sufficient. The secret to the new technique: increasingly fast network speeds that allow hackers to send specially designed packets in rapid succession.

“Thus far, Rowhammer has been commonly perceived as a dangerous hardware bug that allows attackers capable of executing code on a machine to escalate their privileges,” the researchers wrote. “In this paper, we have shown that Rowhammer is much more dangerous and also allows for remote attacks in practical settings. We show that even at relatively modest network speeds of 10Gbps, it is possible to flip bits in a victim machine from across the network.”

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A Memory Champion’s Best Mental Trick for Remembering Where You Put Your Keys

If you’re tired of misplacing your keys around the house, this explosive memory trick will help you remember. All you need is a little imagination.

In this video from the Business Insider YouTube channel, Ron White, world record holder and two-time National Memory Champion, shares his trick for keeping his keys from getting lost. White suggests we misplace keys and other everyday objects because we go on mental autopilot, especially after a long day. To combat that, you need to find a way to focus on the moment you set something down.

For keys, White recommends you imagine they’re a small bomb that goes off wherever you toss them. For example, if you stick them on the counter, imagine a chunk of the counter top getting blasted out and your cabinets catching fire. This makes your brain focus on the moment of placement and associates a visual memory with a distinct physical location. After all, you can’t imagine how your coffee table might blow up if your brain doesn’t take a moment to study the environment first. Now when you need your keys, you’ll go “Oh yeah, I blew up the nightstand a few hours ago.”…

A national memory champion explains how to never misplace your keys ever again | YouTube

Think you’re an ethical person? You may just have a selective memory

(credit: vozach1234)

Proud and happy moments in our lives become cherished memories, kept in relatively crisp condition in our noggins for the occasional uplifting retrieval. But memories of not so pleasant events, such as a moment of weakness when we cheated on a math test or snuck a candy bar from a store, may get roughed up in our brains, perhaps to the point where we can’t clearly recall them anymore, according to a new study.

Collecting data from a series of nine experiments involving 2,109 participants, researchers suggest that our brains actively blur and junk memories of our own misdeeds to help avoid dissonance between our actions and moral values. This mental hazing, the researchers hypothesize in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, helps us maintain a positive moral self-image and sidestep distress.

“Because morality is such a fundamental part of human existence, people have a strong incentive to view themselves and be viewed by others as moral individuals,” the authors write. But with lying, cheating, and stealing being common occurrences, the use of unethical amnesia “can explain why ordinary, good people repeatedly engage in unethical behavior and also how they distance themselves from such behavior over time.”

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IBM’s optical storage is 50 times faster than flash

Flash storage is too slow for your device's main memory, but RAM is expensive and volatile. Thanks to a breakthrough from IBM, phase-change memory (PCM) might one day replace them both. The crystal-based storage has been used in optical disks and oth…

How Drawing Can Help Improve Your Memory, According to Research

How Drawing Can Help Improve Your Memory, According to Research

If you need help jogging your memory, you might try your hand at drawing. A recent study found that we remember items better when we draw them rather than write them down.

In a study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers conducted a series of experiments asking subjects to draw or write down different items. Overall, the study found that subjects were better able to recall the items when they drew them.

For example, in one of the studies, subjects were given a few different tasks with different series of words. They had to either write them down, draw them, visualize them, list attributes of the word, or look at a picture of the word in context. Subjects were more likely to remember the words that were drawn, leading the researchers to conclude:

Together these experiments indicate that drawing enhances memory relative to writing, across settings, instructions, and alternate encoding strategies, both within- and between-participants, and that a deep LoP, visual imagery, or picture superiority, alone or collectively, are not sufficient to explain the observed effect. We propose that drawing improves memory by encouraging a seamless integration of semantic, visual, and motor aspects of a memory trace.

To put these findings into practice, New York Magazine suggests drawing your to-do list. This can help you remember what you have to do and stay focused on those tasks throughout the day. This tip may also be useful for studying, though, and creating a visual mind map can help with brainstorming projects, too.…

Of course, this is just one study, and your own results might vary, but it’s worth a shot. Overall, it may help certain ideas and concepts stick. For more information, check out the links below.

The drawing effect: Evidence for reliable and robust memory benefits in free recall | The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology via NY Magazine

Photo by StartupStockPhotos.

DRAM bitflipping exploits that hijack computers just got easier

(credit: An-d)

New research into the “Rowhammer” bug that resides in certain types of DDR memory chips raises a troubling new prospect: attacks that use Web applications or booby-trapped videos and documents to trigger so-called bitflipping exploits that allow hackers to take control of vulnerable computers.

The scenario is based on a finding that the Rowhammer vulnerability can be triggered by what’s known as non-temporal code instructions. That opens vulnerable machines to several types of exploits that haven’t been discussed in previous research papers. For instance, malicious Web applications could use non-temporal code to cause code to break out of browser security sandboxes and access sensitive parts of an operating system. Another example: attackers could take advantage of media players, file readers, file compression utilities, or other apps already installed on Rowhammer-susceptible machines and cause the apps to trigger the attacks.

As Ars has previously reported, Rowhammer exploits physical weaknesses in certain types of DDR memory chips to reverse the individual bits of data they store. By repeatedly accessing small regions of memory many times per second, code can change zeroes to ones and vice versa in adjacent regions. These changes occur even though the exploit code doesn’t access, and doesn’t have access rights to, the adjacent regions. The bug took on the name Rowhammer, because when the code figuratively clobbers one or more rows of memory cells, it causes bitflips in a neighboring cell.

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Handwrite Your Notes Instead of Typing Them for Better Memory Retention

Handwrite Your Notes Instead of Typing Them for Better Memory Retention

Typing on a keyboard (hardware or virtual) might be quicker than writing things out with pen and paper, but for learning and long-term memory, handwriting trumps the keyboard.

The Wall Street Journal discusses several studies that show students who took handwritten notes outperformed those who typed their notes on their computers:

Compared with those who type their notes, people who write them out in longhand appear to learn better, retain information longer, and more readily grasp new ideas, according to experiments by other researchers who also compared note-taking techniques.

It seems the problem is that when taking notes on our laptops, we can’t help but take notes by rotes, almost word by word. We take more notes more quickly at the computer, but don’t put as much thinking into them as we do when writing by hand.

Writing works better than typing because it stimulates and engages our brains more…

So the next time you want to learn new information, ditch the keyboard and break out your paper notebook or write on your tablet.

Can Handwriting Make You Smarter? | The Wall Street Journal

Photo by birkancaghan.