Do You Have a Terrible Memory?

Forgetfulness gets a bad rap. There are jokes about forgetfulness. You curse yourselves when you forget things. When you forget an appointment, you explain that you have a terrible memory. But do you really? Is forgetfulness always a problem? This is part two of my exploration of memory and memory loss. If you missed the first post, read, What Do You Remember and How. Today’s post is about forgetting or forgetfulness. It’s something we all do. It’s something many of us fear. But forgetting is to memory what yin is to yang. Why You Forget According to Psychology Today, we focus on understanding the world, not remembering it. In real life, there are relatively few situations where we focus on remembering—in school, preparing for a speech, and when meeting new people.  You don’t have a terrible memory. “Memory is designed to be selective.” It’s probably better that we don’t remember every—parking spot we’ve used, password and pin code we’ve ever had, every meal we’ve ever eaten. “People who are better able to prune away irrelevant events are also better able to remember pertinent events, a phenomenon known as adaptive forgetting.” We do not remember days; we remember moments.  Cesare Pavese Types […]

What Do You Remember and How?

What do you remember and how do you remember one thing and your sibling remembers something else? Human memory is complex. We try to replicate it with computers and A.I. Technology. But we barely understand how human memory works. Or where we store our memories. Or how and what corrupts our memory. Scientific examination and study of memory only began in recent history.  The Study of Memory The scientific study of memory didn’t begin until fairly late in human history. Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850–1909), a German psychologist, pioneered the study of memory. The “father of experimental psychology of memory” began his first experiment in late 1878. He published his study, Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology (Über das Gedächtnis in the original German), in 1885. They published the English version in 1913. His study had many limitations. The major one being that his only subject was himself. But he made many discoveries: the forgetting curve, spacing effect, and the learning curve. You can read more about his discoveries on Wikipedia or on Flash Card Learner. What is Memory? Even our everyday definition of memory is complex. Memory is— 1a: the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms–began […]