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why do humans forget?

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Why Do Humans Forget? Why do humans forget? Ask yourself is it true that some people forget that they were abused in childhood? Or, can you do better in your exams if you are in the same mood when you take the test as you was when you revised? And why do sometimes people forget what happened when they have had too much alcochol to drink? There are two simple answers to these questions. First, the memory has disappeared - it is no longer there. Second, the memory is still stored in the memory system but, for some reason, it cannot be retrieved. The first answer is applied to forgetting in STM, while the second to forgetting in LTM. Forgetting in STM As we know, STM has a limited duration and limited capacity. It can hold information only for a short period - 10-15 sec., or as Miller suggested, it can only hold 5-9 unrelated things. So, we can outline 3 theories of forgetting in STM: * Displacement * Trace decay * Interference Displacement This theory provides us with very simple explanation of forgetting. As STM can only hold small amount of information, it displaces old information when new information comes and there is no more place for it. New information Old information Trace decay Trace is some kind of physical or chemical change in our brain. ...read more.


E.g. it could happen to someone who knows some Spanish and starts learning Italian. If they try to speak Spanish they may find they are only able to remember words in the new for them language - Italian. * Proactive interference occurs when something you already know interferes with your ability to take in new information. E.g. if you change your telephone number, you may find it difficult to remember new one. If somebody asks your number, you'll probably give old one. Evidence FOR: 1. Lots of experimental evidence to support interference theory. E.g. Baddeley & Hitch (1977) experiment with rugby players. Evidence AGAINST: 1. Can explain some forgetting, but not all. As a trace decay theory, interference theory can't explain Tulving experiment. Cue dependence This theory was suggested by Tulving (1968). It says that when information goes to LTM, it would always be there. If we can't remember something, then this is not because memory no longer available, but rather 'cause we not using right cues to get through the correct part of our memory, where the information is stored. There are two types of cues: * External/ "context" cues. This is about environment or situation in which we store information into our LTM. Abernethy's (1940) experiment gave support to these. He taught students for 4 weeks in the same classroom and then gave then a test. ...read more.


Remembering is not just a question of making an accurate record of the information we receive, but involves fitting the new information into what is already there and create something that make sense. Bartlett sees world in two ways: * Process of retrieval involves reconstruction, which is influenced by the frame-works that people already have in their heads. This helps us to organize and make sense of incoming information. Schemas will influence the way we take in information. * Schemas also affect the way we recall information, because they may distort recall in way that is consistent with the schema. His "The War Of The Ghosts" experiment gave some suppotr for this. Evidence FOR: 1. Experimental evidence to support Bartlett theory. 2. This theory is more valid to everyday life, then any other theory. Evidence AGAINST: 1. Bartlett "The War Of The Ghosts" experiment - that story was strange and difficult to understand. It was a bit artificial. 2. Also can't explain flashbulb memories. Conclusion So, why do humans forget? There are many reasons why, although it is rather difficult to test them because we may not in fact forget, we may be unable to retrieve the memory from our storage. These theories of forgetting are therefore also possible explanation for why we seem to be unable to retrieve a memory, or why that memory is distorted. This can't give a correct answers, it just can make us understand more clearly "how all that work". ...read more.

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