‘I forgot’ – The science behind forgetting

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Have you ever walked into a room only to forget what you needed? Or opened the pantry only to forget what food you were looking for? I have these forgetful moments daily.

I am about to start my mid-semester break which sounds exciting. But first, I have mid-semester exams.Yuck!

With the amount of time I have spent studying, I have found myself forgetting about everything else I have to do. So it got me thinking, what is the science behind forgetfulness? Is there a reason I am forgetting every little thing at the moment?

Maybe my brain can only handle so much at one time, or maybe I am just a
forgetful person. Psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus found in his research that within about 20 minutes of reading the paper, people often forget about 42% of what you learned or read. Within 1-hour people can forget up to 56%.

Although there is no one reason for forgetfulness there are 3 common explanations. The first is retrieval failure which is the inability to recall a memory without some kind of reminder. An example of this is when you cannot remember the name of a certain singer but when one of their songs comes on you
suddenly remember. The second reason for forgetfulness is inference. This happens when similar thoughts or memories get confused. The last is ineffective coding which is where you simply fail to move the information from your short term to your long term memory.

Try and guess below what categories the following memory mistakes fall into (retrieval, inference, coding):
● You meet someone new and you are so busy trying to make a good first impression that you forget their name
● You order an ice cream but the server mixes up your flavour with the person before you
● You can’t remember what job your mum asked you to do before she went out and only remember when you hear her come home.

However, scientists say that forgetting may actually be the brain’s strategy for processing incoming information. Our brain is not a filing cabinet to remember everything but a computer for making smart decisions.

Hopefully, my brain will kick itself into gear and remember some things during my exams though….

Do you guys every experience forgetfulness? What’s your funniest story? Comment below!

18 Responses

  1. my most embarrassing moment forgetting was when i was little i forgot to close the door and the next day my house had a ton of sheep in it!!!!! ?

  2. Oh my goodness, I’ve never read soemthing so outrageously interesting

  3. Huh, my most annoying forgetfulness experience is when I was doing a speech in front of my whole school- and then I forgot my lines…

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