A new theory of disuse and an old theory of stimulus fluctuation

Author: Robert Bjork, Elizabeth Bjork

Year: 1992

Paper Description

The authors of this paper developed a new theory of how people forget things. They realized that their theory was similar to a theory developed by William K. Estes, a famous psychologist.

Estes’ theory said that our memories are constantly changing and that what we remember is just a sample of our actual memories.

The authors believe that their new theory of disuse is helpful because it explains why we forget things that we don’t need to remember. This helps us to focus on the things that are important.

Key Takeaway 1

The authors of this paper reported that they had developed a new theory of how human memory works. They believe that human memory is adaptive, which means that it is designed to help us learn and remember things in a way that is useful to us.

Their theory is based on the idea that there is a difference between storage strength and retrieval strength. Storage strength is how well we remember something, and retrieval strength is how easily we can access that memory.

It is claimed that our brains forget things that we don’t need to remember in order to make it easier for us to remember the things that we do need to remember. They also believe that testing helps us to remember things by making it more likely that we will be able to retrieve the information in the future.

Key Takeaway 2

The authors’ theory is similar to a theory of memory developed by William K. Estes over 35 years ago (At the time of publication). Estes’ theory said that our memories are constantly changing and that what we remember is just a sample of our actual memories.

Standout Quote

“The new theory of disuse represents our conjecture as to the adaptive interplay of storage and retrieval processes in human memory. In fomtulating the theory, we have taken as an article of faith that what appear to be peculiarities of human memory, as exhibited in certain real-world and laboratory sellings, are in fact reflections of storage and retrieval processes that are adaptive in the overall functioning of human memory.”

Tags

memory, retrieval practice, cognitive science, brain, learning, remembering, knowledge, maintenance, thinking, forgetting, disuse, recognition, context, cognitive psychology, encoding