The Seven Sins of Memory

“Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist,” once said French author Guy de Maupassant. Whether it’s short-term memory allowing us to perform simple calculations on the fly, long-term memory which can store larger quantities of information, sometimes for a whole life span, …

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Declinism: how rosy retrospection impacts decision-making

“It was better before,” says your friend. “Ha, those were the days,” your reply with a sigh. Declinism is the belief that societies tend towards decline, often linked with rosy retrospection—our tendency to view the past more favourably and the future more negatively. It may seem harmless, but declinism can cloud your judgement and lead …

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Lethologica: what happens when a word is on the tip of the tongue

“Wait, I swear, I know this!” you say. “Give me a second, it’s on the tip of my tongue… Does it start with a K? Maybe a C?” You feel like you are just about to remember, but somehow the memory feels stuck in your mouth. This is the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, also known as lethologica. …

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Memory bias: how selective recall can impact your memories

How many times have you forgotten where you left your keys? What about your friend who always seems to make up events that never happened? Do you ever struggle to remember someone’s name? Don’t worry—you’re not the only one. Our memory is far from perfect, and the memory bias effect doesn’t help. A memory bias …

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As we may die

My grandma just passed away. Oma was 86 years old. She was born in Algeria, in a small village called Sidi Okba. She had tattoos on her face, which she didn’t like and tried to get rid of several times, to no avail. She also didn’t like drunk people and violence. What Oma liked, though, …

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Productive cognitive load: make the most of your working memory

There’s only so much we can hold into our working memory—the system our brain uses to temporarily hold information while we manipulate it. The amount of working memory we use at any given moment is called the cognitive load. While both are theoretical concepts used in psychology and neuroscience, they have profound implications when it …

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The anatomy of a perfect educational article

Writing an educational article about something you want to learn about may be one of the best ways to study a topic. The Feynman Technique—which I recently discovered may have been coined by Scott Young—helps you understand anything by pretending you are explaining the concept to a child or someone who has no prior knowledge …

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How to build a spaced repetition system in Roam Research

Spaced repetition is one of the few evidence-based learning techniques you can actually trust will help you remember things better. In this short tutorial, we are going to use Roam Research to build a simple spaced repetition system from your notes. 1. Create your box You need a box with five sections to put your …

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The power of spaced repetition

Many startups are offering learning products based on dubious claims. While the neuroscience of learning is pretty well understood in terms of underlying biological mechanisms, very few interventions have been proven to have a positive impact on these processes. In a sea of unproven strategies, spaced repetition is the strongest evidence-based learning technique. The concept …

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Science-based methods to improve your memory

Many think it’s impossible to improve your memory. But scientific research shows that many techniques do have an impact on how well we remember things. Unfortunately, lots of people use the wrong methods. For example, highlighting has virtually zero effect on information retention. “It seems like if I have highlighted something (…) then I should …

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