The term “memory” describes a wide range of mental abilities that help us remember things and piece together our history, often for the benefit of the present. One of the most significant ways our pasts shape our present is through memory. Specifically, it is a common and perplexing characteristic of individuality that humans can recall distant yet concrete moments from their past. Knowledge appears to be stored in one’s memory. Memory is distinct from perception in that it involves the recall of past events and experiences that are no longer occurring. Since our memories are based on past experiences, recollection is distinct from the realm of pure imagination. However, in actual use, recalling, perceiving, and envisioning can all have close connections. Emotional intensity permeates the process of remembering, which is intricately linked to not just protracted emotional states like love and loss but also to promising and commemorating. It plays a crucial role in deliberation and choice-making at all levels of society. It has some mysterious ties to the dream state. Language can shape specific memories, while pictures can shape others. The ways humans are anchored in time have profound implications for our moral and social lives. When memory fails, it might be in a little, everyday way, or it can be catastrophic, affecting one’s entire life. This study will examine Interference Theory and Decay Theory and show that Interference Theory provides a satisfactory explanation for forgetting.
The difficulty of explaining
It was discovered by Underwood and Ekstrand in 1966 that there are seven common ways in which our memories let us down. Encoding errors can occur when people are not paying close enough attention. The effects of transference are wide-ranging, from gradually fading away information that is no longer needed to the complete blocking of previously acquired knowledge, like thinking of a specific performer from a long-ago film. Another kind of misunderstanding occurs when people mistake their dreams for forthcoming events. Leading questions based on false information might trick people into thinking something happened when it has not. It is a fabricated recollection. More Schacter has been discovered. Unless the information is encoded, it will be lost over time. Anyone can learn anything new, but children do it more efficiently and quickly. The brains of older adults are less active. This clarifies why our memories deteriorate with age.
Suppose you cannot recall particular info from memory. In that case, Retrieval theory says it’s probably because the encoding was not good enough, there is no connection to your preexisting semantic knowledge, or the material is not a good fit for retrieval indices (Feld & Born, 2017). Although you may not be able to recall specifics at this time, this does not indicate that the knowledge has been completely lost from your memory; instead, it only serves as proof that you may recall these details later. That is to say, no matter where the knowledge came from or where it is now, it will stay in our long-term memory for some time. This explains why there is no such thing as “Oblivion.” The issue at hand is what became of the newfound knowledge. The “information” in your head is irrelevant now, so forget about retrieving it. Whether the data has been deliberately erased or forgotten, the end consequence is the same: it has been forgotten.
It was discovered by Underwood and Ekstrand in 1966 that there are seven common ways in which our memories let us down. Encoding errors can occur when people are not paying close enough attention. The effects of transference are wide-ranging, from gradually fading away information that is no longer needed to the complete blocking of previously acquired knowledge, like thinking of a particular performer from a long-ago film. Another kind of misunderstanding occurs when people mistake their dreams for genuine events. Leading questions based on false information might trick people into thinking something happened when it has not. It is a fabricated recollection. More Schacter has been discovered. Unless the information is encoded, it will be lost over time. Anyone can learn anything new, but children do it more efficiently and quickly. The brains of older people are less active. This clarifies why our memories deteriorate with age.
Suppose you can’t recall specific info from memory. In that case, Retrieval theory says it’s probably because the encoding wasn’t good enough, there’s no connection to your preexisting semantic knowledge, or the material isn’t a good fit for retrieval indices (Feld & Born, 2017). Although you may not be able to recall specifics at this time, this does not indicate that the knowledge has been completely lost from your memory; instead, it only serves as proof that you may recall these details later. That is to say, no matter where the knowledge came from or where it is now, it will stay in our long-term memory for some time. This explains why there is no such thing as “Oblivion.” The issue at hand is what became of the newfound knowledge. The “information” in your head is irrelevant now, so forget about retrieving it. Whether the data has been deliberately erased or forgotten, the end consequence is the same: it has been forgotten.
Theories of Forgetting
According to the research of John A. Bergstrom, the reason that humans are unable to remember things is due to a phenomenon known as the negative transmission effect, which takes place in the long-term memory (LTM) system whenever new and old information comes into contact with one another (Botwinick, 1967).
It is possible to forget to be either retroactive or proactive according to the concepts of interference theory (Steinman et al., 1965). According to the proactive interference hypothesis, forgetting occurs when interference from previously learned material inhibits newly acquired information from being recorded in long-term memory (LTM). The phenomenon of retroactive interference, in which new information prevents a person from recalling earlier information because it conflicts with the processing of the new information, may be illustrated by the fact that a person can forget an old phone number shortly after learning a new one. According to Underwood (1969), retroactive interference takes place when the learning and recall of following functions interfere with remembering the “primary studied functions,” which refers to the knowledge that was first encoded (later encoded information).
It is generally agreed that interference is a valid theory. Maxcey et al. (2021)looked at the factors contributing to the interference. They came to this conclusion after studying word pairs and finding that people tend to favor the information they already know rather than the new information offered to them in an experiment involving dual tasks. The more information processed at once, the more likely one is to forget things. It does not matter how excellent a person’s memory is; trying to remember anything while simultaneously juggling many things will always be challenging. Data back this universality of the idea, and interference theory demonstrates that most people have a standard forgetting process.
According to Olsen (2014), the process of forgetting is bolstered when new material has a high degree of similarity to previously stored knowledge. As part of their research, they looked at how interference across languages might affect learning. This lends credence to the retroactive interference theory by suggesting that new information encoded into our LTM ‘blocks out’ or replaces older information without conscious effort (Keppel, 2014). However, as LTM has an infinite capacity, their findings may lend credence to other models of forgetting in which the stimulus type is prioritized above information interactions. The assumptions behind interference theory, on the other hand, undermine it.
All memories are safe under LTM; the thinking goes; forgetting happens only during recall, even if the data themselves are incorrect (Ecke, 2004). This is disregarded by interference theory. It is not possible to say that interference theory encompasses all forgetting components since it lacks evidence from indirect memory studies; most studies have been searching for interference explicitly.
Evidence for forgetting things in the past (retroactive forgetting) may be produced, but how can one demonstrate that memories are not messed with? Even though no significant study directly opposes interference in memory, it is challenging to rule out the potential of forgetfulness from other explanations and interference because of confounds like those mentioned by Henderson (2005), which are difficult to verify scientifically.
The Decay Theory of Forgetting
The trace theory of memory postulates that remembering anything involves making physiological and chemical adjustments to the brain (Keppel, 2014). The neurochemical memory trace of information stored in short-term memory only lasts a few seconds if it is not reviewed often. The events that occur between the time a memory is formed and the time it is retrieved have no bearing on the likelihood of its recall, per the trace decay hypothesis of forgetting. According to trace theory, remembering something influences how likely it is to be remembered in the future (Keppel, 2014). More data will be recalled if the period between exposures is shorter. We lose more knowledge and have less reliable memories as time goes on.
Brown argues that over a short amount of time, the reliability of one’s memories declines until one reaches a certain tipping point (Ricker, Vergauwe & Cowan, 2016). According to Brown, there is a simple reason why our memories have a finite capacity, and we forget things. Because of the time, it takes to perceive an object and the time it takes to recall it, as well as the time it takes for an item in memory to decay while being perceived and retrieved, decay is seen as the direct source of memory spans in this perspective (Ricker, Vergauwe & Cowan, 2016). The amount of things that may be remembered or experienced at one time is limited by this process. Brown may have explained why decay leads to forgetfulness in the abstract, but the meaning of decay may be taken in various ways. In the years after Brown’s findings, many hypotheses have presented diverse explanations of how decay operates (Anderson, 2003). (Anderson, 2003). Disparate interpretations of degradation provide radically divergent forecasts for the durability of short-term memory.
The concept that memories degrade over time is nothing new. About 2,600 years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato made a similar suggestion in his Republic. Ebbinghaus and other psychologists later conducted experiments to support this view (Keppel, 2014). In particular, it is not easy to show that time alone is to blame for memory loss, which is one of the theory’s main flaws. Many things occur in real life between the time a memory is formed and the time it is recalled. Between the time he or she learns something in class and has to recollect it for an exam, the student may have hundreds of one-of-a-kind experiences.
Was too much time between studying for the American History test and taking it that caused you to forget the date the American Revolutionary War began? Or was it influenced by the vast knowledge gained in that time? An extreme testing difficulty may arise. Eliminating every single factor that might impact the construction and retrieval of memory is an almost impossible task (Henderson, 2005). The deterioration hypothesis also fails to explain why specific memories quickly fade while others persist. The element of surprise also contributes. For instance, the first day of college is more likely to stick out in your mind than any other day. The following days may not feel as thrilling as the first ones since they will likely all start to blend.
Human beings are prone to forget regularly. We do not always recall everything, whether it is an activity we have accomplished or an event from our youth. The interference theory appears to offer a reasonable explanation for forgetting. Interference theory performs well in reflecting the perception of being surrounded by fresh stimuli; very few individuals can retain the exact specifics of situations in their memory since we continuously encode new information from external stimuli. Interference theory, on the other hand, may better explain forgetting when used in conjunction with other models of forgetting and memory since its restricted interpretation of memory information as interchangeable pieces cannot account for diverse types of memories and stimuli. A growing body of evidence supports the idea of decay. However, it is unclear why some researchers have been unable to detect the decay signature in their data despite making reasonable efforts to do so and why the decay rates detected by various researchers appear to differ. Another fascinating potential process that does not seem to involve decay is time pressure. However, we have doubts about the importance of temporal constraints in the aging process, as contrasted to cognitive load. The specifics of this time-pressure framework and its potential effects on recall are yet unclear.
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