Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts


  • Page ID


    4.05 Retaining Information: What was that? I forgot!


    Learning new information is not worth the time if we cannot remember it. However, forgetting is a good thing at times. Imagine if everything you saw, read, or learned was retained in your memory? How would you feel? Initially, you may think this is wonderful—no need to study, as everything is stored in memory. After giving it some thought, you will realize that the ability to forget is actually welcomed in some instances. If you remembered everything, you have an excessive amount of information in your memory and would retain vivid memories about times that were not pleasant—such as the pain of breaking a bone or last flu season! Remembering everything can be overwhelming! Forgetting does not always mean losing what we have learned. At times, the new information we have learned has interfered with our old information. For example, your first phone number may not be easily recalled, as your current one has interfered.

    Forgetting An increase in errors in trying to retrieve information.


    Forgetting occurs quickly. As you can see from the graph (be sure to enlarge to view), information is lost very quickly. One way to permanently store information into your brain is the process of overlearning-the process of learning something beyond perfect retention so the forgetting curve will have no effect; the development of perfect retention.. For example, “I pledge allegiance ___ _____ _____.”

    You can likely fill in the blanks and probably keep going, as this has been encrypted into your brain by overlearning.