Why do I quickly forget what I read?

Most of us only remember some of the information we receive. The brain is designed to destroy irrelevant information. In principle, here would be a brief answer to the question in the title: why do I quickly forget what I read?

It is common to forget some of what you read. We read a book, but many times we only remember whether we liked it or not, or some striking passage. This is due to the selection of relevant topics that make up our minds. Also that reading sets up a complex process involving many memories.

However, the question is even more complicated. Brain you need reasons to retain the information received, in the so-called long-term memory, since it remains there as it is, for about 80 minutes.

The senses are the gateway from information to sensory memory. From there, this topic goes with short-term memory, and then with working memory. But for it to run and remain in a long-term memory, we must give it reasons. This new information needs to be linked to previously acquired knowledge or living emotions.

Some books are tested, some are thrown away, very few are chewed and digested”.

-Sir Francis Bacon-

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

  • Sensory memory. It has the ability to record information from the outside world, through the senses. You can process a lot of information at once, but you have little ability to keep it.
  • Short-term memory. It is one used to interact with the environment.
  • Long-term memory. Evaluate the brain database; This memory is what stores living memories, information about the world, images, concepts, etc.

How does this process work? There is the first step, called encoding, in which we notice external information and go to sensory memory. In this step the brain chooses what interests them, based on previous experiences. This way of working makes our memory more efficient, but also prefers certain biases, such as confirmation.

The second is the storage phase. The information that the brain later acquires is preserved and stored. Then comes an end the recovery phase that occurs when we notice, remember and are able to identify stored information. That stored information is informed.

I quickly forget what I read because my brain did not have real active involvement during the reading act. When that engagement occurs, we notice that we can express a concept with our words after reading or we can give our own examples.

You may quickly forget what you read for one or more of the following reasons:

  • I studied at the last minute; shortly before an examination, for example.
  • The learning environment is not ideal. You may read in a happy environment or introduce the mindset to reading while interrupting the mobile phone.
  • Lack of understanding of what was read. I may have read something that I do not understand and cannot relate to concepts that are already stored in my memory.
  • Improper reading habits. Reading is an activity that requires energy from the brain and if done while tired or sleeping badly, then I don’t remember what I read.

Another reason I quickly forget what I read is because memory quickly makes information it deems useful. What is not related to learning or relevant information is removed from our memory repository, after a relatively short period, which may be about 90 minutes.

Woman looking at a book

If I quickly forget what I have read, I can implement some routines to retain the information. Here are some tips:

  • Encourage the habit of reading so that reading is a habit, more than an obligation. Linking to the pleasure of reading helps the memory to retain what has been read.
  • Promoting autonomy of memory, that is, to use it to retrieve information without resorting to technology.
  • Be clear about the purpose of reading. It is positive that we know why we read a certain text.
  • Asking questions about what you read reinforces the ability to retain information.
  • To write, make notes about what is being read it is a good memory fixation strategy.
  • Consolidate the memories, recapitalize and summarize what has been read, from time to time, it helps to remember it later.

Learning experts also recommend repeating what you read. Repeat it to fix it, the more a word or information is repeated, the easier it is for the brain to hold on. On the other hand, it is recommended to read in quiet places, to be as calm as possible and free from distractions.

Reading is not live, but it is a way to come back to life

Reading is not live, but it is a way to come back to life

When you finish a book, it is not finished: it stays inside you. Reading with pleasure is about learning without wanting, it is about being free of mind and finding shelter. Read More »

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