Cognition, Memory and Perception

Topics: Memory processes, Psychology, Memory Pages: 5 (1849 words) Published: December 2, 2012
Why We Forget?
What is forgetting? Forgetting is the inability of a person to retrieve, recall or recognize information that was stored or still stored in long term memory. (McLeod, S. A. 2008). In terms of short term memory, forgetting is caused by interference between past and new information that most modern accounts that holding on to. In some older models, forgetting is explained using a process of passive deterioration of information. Comparing both accounts, interference seems to have a better explanation of forgetting. Secondly in terms of long term memory, forgetting occurs when one fails to remember and unable to reactivated the memory circuit of given information. In general, forgetting seems to happen in between short term and long term memory. It will occur when information is to be encoded or information is not linked to any memory circuit through interference. (“What is forgetting in psychology?”, 2008). However, nowadays, there are theories of forgetting in cognitive psychology that are still difficult to test by researches, because one may in fact not forget, but have trouble retrieving information from one’s memory storage. For examples, one forgets about an event such as attending a friend’s birthday party just because the individual were only remembering another event that is more important to him such as a wedding dinner. The examples of the theories of forgetting are encoding failure, decay theory, interference theory, retrieval failure, motivated forgetting and repression. The author of this paper will going to critically asses on the psychological theories on why people forget. According to Freud (1901), the father of the psychoanalytic school, believed that one will forget of what threatens them. For example, experiences that express in abusing, horrifying, hurtful, tense and ego-dissatisfying will pushed back to the unconscious. Based on the opinion of writer on this paper, it is not necessarily that one just forgets about what threatens them but also forgets the information that does not seem important to them. This scenario is similar to the theory of encoding failure whereas the particular information in short term memory that did not manage to encode in the long term memory and the information did not enter to the memory. Besides that, encoding failure also can be result of stress. Based on Yerkes-Dodson Law, too much stress results can cause performance to decline, sometimes sharply if cognitive or nervous breakdown is triggered. A downturn can also be caused by excessive attention to a task such that extra factors that are important get missed. Secondly, the decay theory, this theory suggests that memory traces in the brain will fade over time through lack of use and become inaccessible. Decay theory suggest that forgetting is a psychological process and it is an idea that when a memory has a physical or chemical trace of the experience in the brain when it is laid down. This traces will fade as time passes unless it is reinforced through repeated times of use. For example, when a person meets a new friend, the name of the friend is just like a trace to the brain. But when the person did not manage to meet up with that new friend for a few days, the name of the friend will slowly decay and might not recall it after. However, researchers have not shown that decay theory causes forgetting of something that is stored in the long term memory. In addition, based on the author’s opinion, memory such as driving skills, riding bicycle skills and swimming skills would not decay even though after a period of time, not every memory trace will fade over time. Some studies of the hippocampus have shown a pattern of rapid and then gradual decline of neutral pathways by Anderson (1995). Thirdly is the interference theory that introduced by a German psychologist, Bergström (1892). The definition of interference theory is when similar memories interfere with each other and causes forgetting in the...
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