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Medical Neuroscience Q. - How long do new learned material stay in your head for?

  1. Apr 12, 2009 #1
    Man I hate forgetting. What I've done so far is log my study times to optimize my spacing. The logs are put on the first page of my binders.

    Let's say on Day 1. You learned a new concept, the class took 1 hour. You go home and do the 3 hours of practice homework. How long will it take on average until you completely forget the material learnt?

    How soon after Day 1 must you study again? Let's keep in mind we are in a class room setting, where new concepts are introduced many days throughout the week. Optimizing the spacing will start to get complicated when you're halfway through the semester.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 12, 2009 #2
    Unfortunately it's a matter of quality, not quantity. 5 hours of poor concentration will not beat a half hour of complete alertness. The persistence of memory is not a simple neuroscientific relationship where T amount of study time yields M amount of memory duration.

    The things that stay in your memory longest, and which are accessed most easily, are those that have the most personal meaning to you and which are linked to pleasure, or pain avoidance.
  4. Apr 14, 2009 #3
    Something you have visually seen is more likely to stay in your head then words.

    e.g try to explain sports through words and then watch somebody do an action
    what do you think you would be easier to remember better and follow better.

    If i say swing your arm: think of the many different interpretations you can come up with
    however if i say do this and you watch: you say i get it.

    Words are actually a very inefficient way of communication because most of the time what is meant is lost through translation.

    learning to visualise words is a skill in itself and if you listen to feynman he talks about this. Learning to interpret.

    Example seeing an explosion is much more memorable than words explosion written on a piece of paper.
  5. Apr 14, 2009 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Depends on how good your memory is and how much contol you have over it. There is no rule for memory, it varies by individual.

    For me, in school, I could put a huge amount of information in my short term memory just for a test, and then lose all of it right after. I don't know what you mean by study, do you mean read something more than once? I just did a quick glance through the reading material once and picked out what I wanted. If I knew it was just for a test and not something I would need longterm, I could just remember all of it until test time. Works great for tests that just required memorization, doesn't help much if you actually have to work through problems though. You might want to play with that concept and see if it works for you.

    Some people memorize things by repeating them, so maybe that works best for you. Stop trying to analyze it so much and practice a few techniques and see which works best for you.
  6. Apr 14, 2009 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    The old saying "one picture is worth a thousand words" is certainly true, but not all people are "visual". I am what is considered an "audio", sound and rythm is my trigger. I know a lot of people that can't understand a concept unless you draw it out for them, drawing things out for people is a skill I had to aquire since a simple verbal lecture does more for me.
  7. Apr 15, 2009 #6
    Not quite studying, I was actually just wondering if there were any research done to see how long it would take for someone to completely forget a new concept learned that was taught to them.

    I.e. if you I were to teach you a new chemistry concept to you right now, and once you got home you did the homework, how long would it take for you to forget the material if you did nothing for the rest of the week/month? There's got got be some kind of average. I.e. if human short term memory is about 20 seconds, or that "magical number 7"

    It's a different question about, "how long would it take you to forget a formula or a labeled diagram if you memorized it just 3 hours ago"?
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