Among us there are lucky ones who perfectly remember movies that had been watched a long time ago, books that had been read at school, the names of random acquaintances and phone numbers of friends. But most people complain about forgetfulness, writes Julie Beck in a column published in The Atlantic. So why do we forget everything?


Literary critic at The New York Times Pamela Paul reads countless books. She remembers their covers, editions and stores where they were bought, but admits that in a few days she forgets the content. And this is understandable.

The amount of memory is limited, says the Canadian psychologist Faria San, «that’s the problem. And everything that the brain considers garbage, it sweeps.

According to the forgetting curve, in the first hour after studying the material, up to 60% of the information is lost. Six days later, up to 20% remains in memory.

How to deceive a curve? If you have at least two days in reserve, psychologists recommend repeating the study immediately after reading, after 20 minutes, 8 hours and a day. For information to be postponed for a long time, after two or three weeks and two or three months it is necessary to refresh knowledge once again.

Apparently, technologies could be blamed in our holed memory. As researcher Jared Horvath from Melbourne University markes, we have lost the skill of «digging» in memory — because in our time everything can be googled. When people know that in the future they will easily return to information, they lose the incentive to remember it, according to an article by psychologists at Columbia University. By the way, for the same reason, the ancients, including Socrates, called writing a «killer» of memory.

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In a recent study, Horvath and his colleagues found out that those who watch serials a lot forget the plot quicker than the viewers who watch an episode a week. The same with books: reading in one place (for example, in an airplane) is poorly remembered.
Therefore, if you want to be known as an erudite, read in several approaches. By the way, Pamela Paul still thought of a way to memorize books — she started a «reader’s diary.» In this book, which she called Bob (book of books), the critic makes extracts from the read volumes.

And in the book of the world champion in mnemonics Boris Nicholas Conrad «How to remember everything!», an excerpt describes the method of remembering in a dream.

The best advice is very simple: [for memory to stay sharp], sleep should be deep and long enough.

Video about how to sharpen memory



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