Train Your Brain To Remember – Not long ago, my friend and I were discussing the struggles that come with growing older, particularly in regard to the decline in our ability to remember things we want to remember. This becomes especially frustrating when attending a conference or a learning seminar (that’s right, Crazy Gurl is SMART y’all!), only to find that the information from the entire session has been forgotten just days later. However, my colleague then introduced me to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, a 100-year-old formula developed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus who was a pioneer in the experimental study of memory.
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The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve has gained popularity in recent times, especially among college students, as a tool to help them remember lecture material. For example, the University of Waterloo has even posted an explanation of the curve and how to use it on their Campus Wellness website. As a professor at Indiana University, I was made aware of this formula by a student in my class who mentioned it as a study aid he uses. Intrigued by its potential benefits, I decided to try it out for myself.
The Forgetting Curve is a model that describes the rate at which we retain or lose information that we take in, based on a one-hour lecture. The curve shows that immediately after the lecture, we retain the most information, but if we do not engage with the material in any way, we will have lost between 50-80% of it by the next day. By day seven, this retention rate drops to only 10%, and by day 30, the information is nearly forgotten, with only 2-3% being retained.
However, this curve can be reversed with just 20 minutes of effort through the practice of spaced intervals. By revisiting and reprocessing the same material in a specific pattern, it becomes easier for our brain to retrieve the information from our long-term memory when we need it. According to Ebbinghaus’s formula, we should spend 10 minutes reviewing the material within 24 hours of receiving it, which raises the curve back up to almost 100% retention. Seven days later, spending five minutes to “reactivate” the material and another two to four minutes by day 30 can completely “reactivate” the information, bringing the curve back up.
I put the formula to the test myself while attending a conference and being able to attend two interesting one-hour keynotes. For one of the keynotes, I took no notes, and a month later, I could barely remember any of the information. However, for the second keynote, I took thorough notes and followed the spaced interval formula, and a month later, I was able to remember nearly all the material.
Train Your Brain To Remember
So, if you want to remember the information from an interesting seminar or session, it is important to avoid a “cram for the exam” approach. Instead, investing 20 minutes in spaced intervals, as recommended by the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, can help you retain the information for a month or more. This approach is a much more effective use of your brain and will allow you to remember what you learned for a longer period of time.