Video: How We Learn Versus How We Think We Learn

This lecture by renowned UCLA cognitive scientist Robert Bjork reveals how forgetting, remembering, and learning are all vital, positive components of human memory

Photo by Pejvak Samadani on Unsplash

When we hear the word ‘forget,’ typically there are negative associations. We often think of ourselves as striving not to forget things. But, as Robert Bjork discusses in the below video, forgetting is actually an important component of learning and memory.

Case in point: If we simply recorded and remembered everything, our memory would become cluttered with useless material. Or, in Bjork’s words, “Forgetting, rather than undoing learning, enables learning and focuses remembering.”

Bjork goes on to discuss how we, as humans, tend to fundamentally misunderstand this system of forgetting and remembering as it relates to learning.

“We seem to carry around a kind of flawed model of how this system works—how we learn and remember. Our judgments about whether we’ve learned and will remember are unreliable. We are subject to illusions of comprehension—students will be familiar with that, where they think they are very well prepared, before some exam. The decisions we make about managing our own learning are far from optimal.”

Taken together, these internal issues are coupled with societal assumptions and attitudes that actually reinforce behaviors counterproductive to learning.

But far and away the most important factor for Bjork is the process of retrieving memories. To quote his slides, “Retrieving information from memory is a dynamic process that alters the subsequent state of the system.”

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Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Athlete, artist, writer. Content Marketing Manager at @cerego. Twitter: @bryankitch

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