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Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read

The Forgetting Curve

Our memories have a 'forgetting curve', and unless we review what we see or learn, most of the content is forgotten in 24 hours, and the rest in the following days.

Due to the Internet, our recall memory has become less necessary, because now we don't need to remember information to recall it. Recognition memory is more important with recall memory fading away due to it being 'externalized'.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read

Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/01/what-was-this-article-about-again/551603/

theatlantic.com

3

Key Ideas

The Forgetting Curve

Our memories have a 'forgetting curve', and unless we review what we see or learn, most of the content is forgotten in 24 hours, and the rest in the following days.

Due to the Internet, our recall memory has become less necessary, because now we don't need to remember information to recall it. Recognition memory is more important with recall memory fading away due to it being 'externalized'.

Memories Are Associations

The more information that is available to us, the more we are unable to retain it. Memory means association and most information we consume may be simply buried inside, lurking deep in, and surfacing when the right cue pops up.

Binge-watching or binge-reading serves no useful purpose as we are only holding the content in our working memories. That's why schools space out the chapters and review them, helping us retain the material.

Memories Get Interwoven

The art and culture we engage our brains in turn into memories which can be unpredictable and fickle.

The books we read, the songs we hear and the movies we watch become interwoven and entangled with everything else in our lives.

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Almost all writing is influenced by other people’s work

Even if some writers avoid reading when they’re writing a book because they’re afraid of being influenced by other people’s work, finding your unique voice is most times the result of borro...

Tsundoku
Tsundoku

Many of us have a desire to read. We buy books, but then the demands of work and family catch up with us, and we never get round to reading the books. The Japanese calls it tsundoku

Finding the time for books

To give books the attention and time it deserves in your life, you need to make it a higher priority. It means you have to change your habits and routines to allow more reading.

Sometimes, your reading needs only a little encouragement to displace something that should be lower down on your list. For example, to forgo watching television and reading a book instead.

The reading habit: Succeeding long-term
  • First consider why you want to read more books. Reading should be enjoyable for you because you find them entertaining, calming, stimulating, and fascinating. Once the habit is set, you can also read other things you "should" read.
  • Change your surroundings to make it easier for you to grab a book. Reading apps can be prominent on your phone. Physical books should be in places that you most often frequent.
  • Create modest reading goals. Permit yourself to start with reading one page a day. Once the habit is established, you can increase it.
  • Once you have laid the foundation for your new reading habit, create an action association, such as reading on the train to work or with your mid-morning coffee or dinner.

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Nontraditional social strategies
Nontraditional social strategies
The so-called 'nontraditional social strategies' can fulfill social needs whenever we are not able to fulfill these needs by using traditional social strategies.&n...
Traditional vs. non-traditional social strategies
While research has shown that nontraditional social strategies, such as reading a book or watching movies, can substitute for spending time with your loved ones, there is evidence that the traditional social strategies still hold actually the key to longer-lasting happiness. 

However, whenever it is not possible to combine the two or practice traditional social techniques. then you might want to consider the safest option: the nontraditional social strategies.

Nostalgia for social interactions
Whenever we are not able to meet our friends or family for a long period of time, we tend to feel nostalgic for those moments of togetherness that have just become even more precious. 

By watching movies, listening to songs, or just reflecting on our relationships, we actually help repair and rediscover who is really important to us and we will, therefore, be even more grateful when given the chance to meet up again with those very persons.

Successful people stick to their reading habit

A random sampling of the world’s most successful people will show one common trait: a love of reading. Because reading is the easiest way to continue the learning process. 

Whatever problem you’re struggling with is probably addressed in some book somewhere written by someone a lot smarter than you."

- Ryan Holiday

Whatever problem you’re struggling with is probably addressed in some book somewhere written by someone a lot smarter than you."

- Ryan Holiday

Our memory is made up of 3 components

...in terms of reading retention:

  • Impression
  • Association
  • Repetition

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False memories are common

We all misremember things. However, false memories are not so much mistakes but can be very detailed fantasies. Some people remember precise details of an event they attended, only to later real...

False memories have benefits

False memories are not useless. It seems that they're able to improve our mental processing.

Memories are our reality. Remembering isn't just looking up fact's from our mental files. It's more like telling stories. If we forget, we reconstruct the details, even if the details are false.

Memory conformity

When we remember what something 'should' look like, we will often construct a memory to fit the mould. 

False memories can also happen to groups and could lead to mass delusions. People were shown a fake CCTV footage of a shop robbery and discussed what they’d seen. One of the participants introduced false ideas: the thief had a gun, right? Three in four people later recounted these fabricated ‘facts’ when questioned.

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Reflect on what you read
Just go back and give yourself a little time to reflect on what you just read. Sit there long enough to:
  • Mentally identify the main points or concepts.
  • Jot down some note...
Making connections

When you give yourself a few minutes to rest and think about what you just read,  you're allowing your brain to better connect the new information to what you've already done or understood.

You stand a better chance of the new memories being more powerful and easier to retrieve.

The myth of lost time

When you can remember information from your content better, you actually can end up saving time. 

You don't have to go back and look up as many facts or ideas, and you can apply the information on the fly better. 

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Say it out loud

Learning and memory benefit from active involvement. When you add speaking to it, the content becomes more defined in long-term memory and more memorable.

Take notes by hand

Most of us can type very fast, but research shows writing your notes by hand will allow you to learn more.

Taking notes by hand enhances both comprehension and retention.

Chunk your study sessions

Studying over a period of time is more effective than waiting until the last minute.

Distributed practice works because each time you try to remember something, the memory becomes harder to forget.

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The different kinds of memories
The different kinds of memories

We hold on to different kinds of memories.

  • Short-term memories last seconds to hours and long-term memories last for years.
  • We also have a...
Where your brain keeps memories

By studying people with amnesia, it seems that short-term and long-term memories don't form in precisely the same way, nor do declarative and procedural memories.

  • Emotional responses such as fear occur in a brain region called the amygdala.
  • Memories of learned skills are associated with the region called the striatum.
  • The hippocampus is essential for forming, retaining, and recalling declarative memories.
  • The temporal lobes play a critical role in forming and recalling memories.
How we experience memories

Memories are held within groups of neurons called cell assemblies. They fire as a group in response to a specific stimulus, such as recognising your friend's face.

The more neurons fire together, the more the interconnection of the cells strengthen. We experience the nerves' collective activity as a memory.

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The Science of Memory
  1. Encoding - the stage when the brain consciously acknowledges information based on our senses. When we attach meaning or factual knowledge to any of this sensory input, that'...
Lifestyle Changes That Can Improve Memory
  • Get a good night's sleep or take a power nap after learning something new, to help retain and retrieve memories better. Sleep deprivation and acquisition of too much information will not help you save those memories.
  • Get moving, to improve the flow of oxygen-rich blood in your brain and to trigger neuron growth and new connections in the brain - critical for memory.
  • Improve your diet. Fats from food can build up the brain, resulting to poor blood flow.
Mnemonics

Any system or device designed to aid memory:

  • patterns of letters or words (common mnemonics)
  • ideas (memory palace)
  • associations (chunking)

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Never Too Late To Learn

The general perception is that an old brain past its prime cannot learn new things, as it cannot grasp information like a young adult.

New studies show that complex skills like reading ...

The Adaptiveness Of The Brain
  • The adaptiveness of the brain, which scientists have now better understood is called Neuroplasticity.
  • Studies show that brains of adults and elders can learn a new language just as a child could, provided they get the opportunity and are not inhibited towards making mistakes.

A child's brain is indeed completely raw, known as 'Tabula Rasa' and they can find it easier to master certain skills of perception, but at the same time, adults have the advantage of analysis, self-reflection and greater discipline.

Psychological Barriers

The barrier to learning in adults may consist of preconceived notions, negativity or lack of confidence.
Older adults also underestimate the power of their own memories, reinforcing the belief that they cannot learn or remember, and making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Education has no age limit, and older adults need to break these psychological barriers to learning, leading to profound benefits and a sharper mind.