Posts Tagged ‘Forgetting’

If I could just stop thinking about it! The effect of emotional input on working memory.

November 24th, 2015 7 comments

An overtime loss. It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t all your fault. Now you sit in the image001library trying to finish your research paper due in an hour; you can’t concentrate as visions of the puck slowly sliding through your goalie pads into the awaiting net behind you consume your thoughts. Do you ever find yourself helplessly replaying events that you’re upset about while trying to focus on something else? But why do we have so much trouble thinking when something is bothering us, yet we can work so productively the rest of the time?

If only we could effectively think about multiple things at the same time. You could process the events of the game last night while writing your paper; you could replay that upsetting fight you had with your boyfriend while studying for your Spanish vocab quiz. Essentially, our lives would be that much more efficient, if only we could process multiple thoughts at once.

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Challenge: Can you memorize 67890 digits?

November 23rd, 2015 No comments

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588…You can tell from the first three or four digits that this whole bunch of numbers represents a simple idea, the ratio of a circle to its diameter, π. Now, if I say that the person who can memorize the most number of the decimals of pi can win a million dollar prize, what strategy do you think is the most effective, and how many decimals do you think are enough to win the prize?



One strategy that may come to your mind is creating little chunks of decimals of pi and memorize chunk by chunk. For example, the first 20 digits can be chunked into ‘31415,’ ‘92653,’ ‘58979,’ and‘32384.’ The last one or two digits of the previous chunk may cue you about the first one or two digits of the latter group. However, after you memorize a considerable number of decimals, you will find it difficult to continue because the digits cues start to repeat and you will experience too much retroactive interference, which describes the phenomenon that things memorized later may negatively affect your ability to recall something memorized earlier. A similar thing happens when you are trying to remember two people’s phone number. After you memorize the second phone number, the first one will appear to be a bit vague in your memory. You can choose to enlarge the group size from 5 digits to 10 digits to reduce the cue repetition, thus the retroactive interference can be reduced as you are using more digits as cues. However, you may still find it hard to continue after you reach a certain part when all the digits and cues entangle and you cannot recall them in a correct sequence, which is the key of memorizing pi. Due to the difficulties you find, you may come up with a reasonable estimation and wisely give up because it is kind of a waste of time. Read more…

Categories: Memory Tags: ,

What to remember, what to forget? Decisions, decisions….

Have you ever found yourself wishing there was a way to erase part of your memory? …perhaps a bad breakup, car accident, or a really embarrassing moment that you simply never want to remember again?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could just wake up one day and have all the bad things in our memory trace be gone forever?  Why yes–I think that would be quite wonderful–and I wish I could tell you there was a way for this to happen, but I’m not.  Unfortunately, the memory of an old girlfriend or boyfriend may stay with you forever; but, what if there was a way in which you could change the way you remember an ex or alter the memory of a bad breakup?  Well thanks to recent research, cognitive psychologists have discovered a way to “forget the unforgettable” (Coman, Manier, & Hirst, 2009).

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Categories: Memory Tags: ,

What if you could forget your prom fiasco? The importance of selective forgetting

May 2nd, 2014 6 comments

Everyone has moments in their life that they wish they could forget. It could be that time that you the bridge gave out during your pictures on the water or the inevitable newspaper article written about it. But what if you could forget the whole thing happened and block out that embarrassing moment out of your memory forever?


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Pay Attention, Grandma!

November 25th, 2013 7 comments

Have you ever had a moment in which your mother forgot where she had put her phone, which she says she was just using it a minute ago? Or have you ever walked out of a store empty handed because you couldn’t remember precisely what it was that you were going to buy? I have.

Such forgetting occurs more frequently among older adults (60 -78yrs old) than among younger adults (17 – 27yrs old). In other words, older adults forget more often than younger adults. In addition, older adults are also more easily distracted. For example, when my dad once turned on a television while my grandma and I had a conversation, grandma got distracted by the show on television. She then forgot that she was in a conversation just a moment ago and started watching the show with my dad.  At moments like this, I could not stop wondering why can’t my grandmother just ignore the television like I do.

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Categories: Aging, Attention, Memory Tags:

Is Forgetting Always a Bad Thing?

March 19th, 2013 8 comments

Many people believe that we can recall events in our life perfectly, like rewinding a movie and watching it over and over again. However, recalling events is a much more complicated process that can be filled with glitches and errors along the way. There are various steps that need to take place for an event to be stored in memory Events that we experience can be processed for meaning and stored for later use in long term memory so when we need to recall an event, the information is stored and retrievable through long term memory. The information in long-term memory is stored so we can recall this knowledge when needed. This information includes the ability to remember a person, the foods we like, and the location of the nearest hospital. The process of remembering these events is called retrieval. Retrieval for memories can vary depending on the content of the information. If the content of the information if very negative, it is forgotten more easily compared to positive or emotionally neutral events. Psychologists Greenhoot, McCloskey, and Glisky (2005) were interested in how adolescents were able to retrieve the memories of family violence that took place during their childhood. Because of their interest, they conducted a study to test whether or not adolescents even recalled the abuse, and if so, how accurate the adolescents’ memories were.

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Categories: Development, Memory Tags: