We remember a portion of the information we receive

13.09.2020
Why do I quickly forget what I read? This phenomenon is due to normal memory function. In this article we will explain it to you in detail.

Most of us remember only part of the information we receive. The brain is designed to discard information that is not relevant . In principle, this would be a brief answer to the question in the title: why do I quickly forget what I read?

Forgetting part of what you read is normal. We read a book , but many times we only remember if we liked it or not, or some striking passage. This is due to the selection of relevant content that our mind makes. Also to the fact that reading sets in motion a complex process in which many memories are involved .

However, the issue is even more complex. The brain needs reasons to retain the information received , in the so-called long-term memory, since it remains there as is, for approximately 80 minutes.

The senses are the gateway from information to sensory memory . From there, this content goes to short-term memory, to then go to working memory. But for it to pass and remain in long-term memory, we must give it reasons. It is necessary to link this new information with previously acquired knowledge or with lived emotions.

" Some books are tested, others eaten, very few chewed and digested ."

-Sir Francis Bacon-

The functioning of memory

Memory is a function of our brain. Thanks to it, our body can encode, store and retrieve the information received in the past. Memory is classified into three types:

  • Sensory memory . It is the ability to register information from the outside world, through the senses. You can process a lot of information at once, but you have little ability to retain it.
  • Short term memory . It is one that is used to interact with the environment.
  • Long term memory . Considered the database of the brain; This memory is the one that stores lived memories, knowledge about the world, images, concepts, etc.

How does this process work? There is a first phase, called encoding, in which we perceive external information and it goes to sensory memory. At this stage the brain selects what interests it, based on previous experiences . This way of working makes our memory more efficient, but it also favors certain biases, such as confirmation .

The second is the storage phase. Here the information that will be retrieved later by the brain is preserved and stored. Then, finally, comes the recovery phase that occurs when we evoke, remember and are able to recognize the stored information . That stored information is brought to consciousness.

Why is it that I quickly forget what I read

I quickly forget what I read because my brain has not had an active and real participation during the act of reading . When that participation occurs, we notice that after reading we can express a concept with our words or we can give our own examples.

It may also be that I quickly forget what I read for one or more of the following reasons:

  • I have studied at the last minute ; shortly before an exam, for example.
  • The learning environment is not suitable . You may read in a noisy environment or give in to the temptation to read being interrupted by the cell phone.
  • Lack of understanding of what was read . It is possible that I have read something that I do not understand and cannot relate to concepts already stored in my memory.
  • Inadequate reading habits . Reading is an activity that demands energy from the brain and if it is done while tired or badly asleep, then I will not remember what I read.

Another reason I quickly forget what I read is because memory quickly discards information that it does not consider useful . That which does not involve learning or relevant information is eliminated from the store of our memory, after a fairly short period of time, which can be around 90 minutes.

Strategies to remember what you read

If I quickly forget what I read, I can put into practice some routines to retain the information. Some tips are as follows:

  • Encourage the habit of reading so that reading is a habit, rather than an obligation. Connecting with the pleasure of reading helps memory retain what has been read.
  • Encourage the autonomy of memory , that is, exercise it to retrieve information without resorting to technology.
  • Be clear about the purpose of the reading . Knowing why we read a certain text is positive.
  • Asking questions about what you have read strengthens your ability to retain information.
  • Writing, making notes about what is being read is a good memory fixation strategy.
  • Consolidating memories, recapitulating and summarizing what was read , from time to time, helps to remember it later.

Learning experts also recommend repeating what you read . Repeat over and over to fix, since the more a word or information is repeated, the more easily the brain tends to retain it. On the other hand, it is recommended to read in quiet places, being relaxed as much as possible and free from distractions.

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