Forgetting is what we refer as the temporary or long-term loss of details, stimuli record, or memory materials that has been learned or stored in our brains. A forgotten item may be stored in memory but unavailable for retrieval or recall. There are several theories or explanation regarding forgetting.
- Decay of Memory Traces – This is the oldest explanation regarding forgetting. Memory is said to have a natural tendency to decay with time. When a word or a name of person is no longer relevant, such memory item may eventually lose its significant place inside our brain.
- Distortion of Memory – Some experiences may be learned or retrieved in a much distorted form. Such inaccuracy may lead to a different or false memory or may even defeat the process of retrieval since what are being accessed are wrong traces or leads in our brain.
- Interference – This experience may have been a result of in-between situations or uncontrollable variables during the experience of learning or memorizing. This also includes what occurs before, during, or after learning. Activities done before a task may confuse the retention process or what psychologists call as proactive inhibition. The more previously learned task there are, the greater the forgetting of the new tasks or operation. However, the more meaningful the material to be learned and retained, the less effect of such proactive kind of inhibition. On the other hand, an opposite effect happens during the retroactive inhibition, in which there are interfering activities occurring after a learning period. Usually, people who have to learn a second task forget more of the first than those who are given only one task to do. That is why, it would be advisable to master a particular task or skill before going on to the next activity, because retaining too much information require complex interactions of your memory and psychomotor skill. Such example is proven during the period of learning how to drive. Motor skills and various movements are necessary and may sometimes look confusing at first since they require synchronicity. However as we slowly start to learn to put individual bodily tasks into a cohesive and unified action, we begin to think in a very precise and completely organized manner. This means we have already learned or memorized different tasks and have already put them into order. Therefore, in order to remember more, one must have mastery of a particular task or skill before engaging in other activities which require particular specialization.
- Motivated Forgetting – This is a variable in forgetting which involve the individual’s motive or desire to remember or forget. People seem to repress certain memories or suppress the process of retention or memory retrieval. More often remembered are pleasant events than unpleasant ones. Emotion also plays an important aspect in this explanation regarding forgetting. Some people prefer to forget experiences that are sad or traumatic. This may be a wise move. If you spend less time recollecting your failures and disappointments in life, you’ll have better capacity to retain the positive and essential information in your mind. Because negative thoughts aggravate stress, you should learn to relax and forget about past mistakes. The past is done. Focus and retain only positive thoughts.
- Lack of Cues or Guides – We are able to retrieve material to the extent that we have cues to remind us of it. When we remember something, it is as if we search our memory with the help of cues or guides that point the way to the desired materials. When we forget, it is because we may lack the necessary cues or guides in getting back the information stored in the vast neural connection of our brain.
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