Forgetting Curve

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  • The rate of forgetting over time. The forgetting curve was first investigated by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus in the late 1800s. He conducted research on his own memory per formance by learning “nonsense syllables” (e.g., “pof,” “xem”). To compute retention, he used the method of savings, which involves computing the difference between the number of trials needed to learn the list of items and the number of trials to relearn the list. Ebbinghaus found a decline in savings as time passes, with the most dramatic drop in the first nine hours. The shape he discovered (especially the initial drop) was confirmed in numerous studies with different methods and materials. Ebbinghaus also found that forgetting is not necessarily complete, with savings persisting over time. For ...

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