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Hack the Forgetting Curve and Gain a Super Memory

Have you ever kept something in a "safe" place and you forgot where the heck the safe place is?

Let's face it, forgetting sucks.

And this is all because of the quirky, unreliable and complicated nature of the human memory. That's why we keep on forgetting the items on our grocery list or even the name of your manager's wife you met yesterday.

Even if you think that you still remember, there's a high possibility that you have twisted it up. In fact, according to the research carried out at Standford University by Elizabeth Loftus, memories don't just fade, they can also change.

Neuroscientists have gone above and beyond to find out exactly the mechanism of memory formation and why we forget things. Forgetfulness have come to form a fundamental part of what it means to be human. On one side, it is a good thing because it helps us to forget tragic events, negative emotions and all the unnecessary information we acquire each day.

However, forgetting deals us a deadly blow when it causes us to stumble over words because we forgot the name of a colleague, loose the knowlege of the place we just kept that important document or can't figure out the answer to a question in an examination hall.

Why do you forget? How can you stop forgetting things as soon as you learnt them. Just like Olympians, champions of memory aren't born, they are made.

In this article, you will discover exactly what the forgetting curve is and how to hack it.

The Memory Research That Shook the World of Neuroscience.

In 1885, a German psychologist named Herman Ebbinghaus wrote down a list of consonant-vowel-consonant words. These kinds of words are known today as "nonsense syllables" because they make no meaning at all. Examples of nonsense syllables are DAX, BOK, and YAT.

Herman Ebbinghaus got 23,000 nonsense syllables and learnt all of them. Over time, he checked how many of these words that he could still recall. What he found out was that, what he could remember was decreasing with time. In other words, his knowledge of the nonsense syllables was decaying with each passing day.

The graph above depicts the result of Ebbingaus experiments which is popularly known as the forgetting curve. As you can see from the chart, the amount of knowledge retained for the first few days after the learning drops steeply. After that steep drop, it's obvious that Ebbingaus was able to remember the same nonsense syllables that he remembered the day before. What this means is that by revisiting or reviewing what we learnt from time to time will help us not to forget it.

Spaced Repetition - The Hack For Beating the Forgetting Curve

Spaced repetition is a method of learning that was developed to ensure that new information is learnt by reviewing and revising it from time to time. This learning technique makes use of the psychological spacing effect.

There's an optimal time to review what you learnt. Review too early you’re wasting your time, review too late you’ve forgotten too much and have to relearn it.

It's necessary to revise the information when you can still recall about 85% of it. This will help you a lot to remember it more faster than you would have if you waited for too long. According to scientists, this is a great way to store information in the long term memory.

The human memory is naturally designed to forget information with time. This is in concordance with the result of Ebbingaus experiment in 1885. More than a century later, a polish programmer named Piotr Wozniak created computer programs that accurately predicted the retention of knowledge.

Right now, there are lot of developments and researches going on about this. A lot of useful softwares and mobile apps like Anki and Synap had been developed to make the learning and revising of information more fun for users. A lot of language learning softwares like Duolingo also use the spaced repetition technique.

 This learning technique works like charm for helping your brain store information faster and longer. However, not a lot of people know about this "memory hack" that gives us evergreen memories.


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