Selective Memory – We all have it

I have recently been investigating techniques of memorization. I figured this would be an interesting asset as I pursue my PhD Economics, so instead of relying until the end of my Academic Career on feeling, what has worked for me so far, I’ve decided to attribute method to my studies. Hermann Ebbinghaus was the first to investigate how our memory works, how long we are able to retain information, and moreover, what kind of information is easier to retain.

memoria_imgEbbinghaus’ experiments with memory shows that

  • “the forgetting process” is faster on the first nine hours;
  • Forgeted subjects can be relearned faster than new subjects learned for the first time;
  • Meaningful content tend to be remembered ten times more than insignificant or random content;
  • Learning sessions repeated during a longer interval of time intensify memorization in any given subject;
  • Items located towards the beginning or the end of a series are remembered easierly;
  • We remember for longer the subjects we continue on studying even after mastering/learning.

During his experiments, he was able to sketch a forgetting curve, as you can see on the left. I thought this was particularly interesting so that we can test whether an information has passed the nine hour mark, it will probably survive forevermore.

One thing that particularly caught my attention among those findings is the fact that we all do have selective memories, our brain does on its own a ranking of what is more important than others. Another very important aspect is our brain’s ability or lack of to establish associations, in order for something to be remembered. This enhances the notion that knowledge isn’t a mere group of information stuck together, but rather a stairway we build everyday towards the greater comprehension of the Universe.