Many of us have been told that writing things down can help us learn more effectively, but learning and remembering aren’t always the same thing. Your notes can actually act like a crutch, and when they’re gone, you might find you don’t remember anything at all.
Photo by Jacob Botter
A recent study from Michelle Eskritt and Sierra Ma at Mount St Vincent University — published in the journal Memory & Cognition — suggests that when you take notes, your brain can intentionally forget because it knows that you’ve written the information down and stored it elsewhere. During the study, participants were asked to play the memory game Concentration over and over. The catch was that one group was allowed to take notes during the game. Halfway through the game, however, that same group got their notes taken away. When the study was completed, the group that was not allowed to use notes performed significantly better.
Human memory isn’t always that great, but when your brain knows it doesn’t need to memorise something, it won’t. So the next time you’re studying or taking notes, be sure to take the time and really go over the information.
Intentional forgetting: Note-taking as a naturalistic example [Memory & Cognition via Wired Brain Watch]