- I have a terrible short-term (and long-term) memory
- I forget what show on TV I am watching during commercial breaks
- I have a really hard time remembering people’s names and faces
- I need a “hook” to remember facts about certain topics. A hook is something that is said or seen that sparks my memory and allows me to recall information.
My brain: the ‘slow’ parts. Part 3. My memory stinks!
I don’t remember things very well. Names go in one ear and out the other. Lectures do not resonate for long. Conversations are soon forgotten. Words I read disappear in my brain.To give you a more concrete idea about how my short-term memory affects me during my daily life I’ll give an example of how my memory works while I watch an episode of Fox’s Fringe.
Before the episode starts I try really hard to remember what happened last week. If I didn’t talk to anyone about it the previous week I usually can’t remember anything about the previous episode. One good thing for me is that I work with someone who I regularly talk to about the show so when this episode starts I already remember the past and I’m hoping our universe doesn’t get destroyed (for those of you who don’t watch the show the entire fringe universe could get eaten up by another universe… It’s complicated, silly and AWESOME). This forgetfulness also affects my work. I forget papers I read a few minutes before, I forget what speakers say after they flip to the next slide and I forget what experiments I’ve completed and which ones I need to do. (I’ve developed some wonderful tools that help me remember these things that I’ll discuss in a later post. These tools have also helped me remember enough of the literature about my project so I was able to write and publish a review article about my project!)
Anyway, the episode starts with a person turning into a monster or falling through a balcony to their death or something creepy like that… suffice it to say, someone dies a horrible disfiguring death. The main characters come to investigate the event and start their paranormal investigation. There are 4 (maybe 6) characters that are regulars on the show I can only name 2 of them. I’ve watched every episode for the past few years and I still don’t remember their names. I try really hard to memorize them, but names don’t click. I see them every week, and when I try to recall their names I end up saying stuff like, “I really like that badass skinny lady (Olivia; I cheated and looked them up for this post)” or “the dude from The Wire (Agent Broyels) is fantastic.” I call this the namelessness effect. It occurs when I don’t remember names of people, places, things, animals, chemicals, viruses, immune cells, etc. Names I’ve heard hundreds of times just don’t stay in my head for very long. This has made studying science very difficult for me.
When a commercial break occurs in the middle of the show I literally forget what show I’m watching. I could have watched for 25 minutes and as soon as the screen goes black with one of those creepy images indicating it’s time for a commercial, my brain goes blank. I can’t for the life of me remember what show I’m watching. As I watch Ford trucks driving through mud, pasta dinners being prepared at the Olive Garden and some person complaining about someone else running for public office I try to remember what show I’ve been watching and I JUST CAN’T do it! I’ll say to myself, “Okay, I know I like this show… Shoot. It’s Friday, what shows are on today. Um… I can’t think of any! Wait, the Today show. No! That’s a ‘news’ show on in the mornings! Okay, what shows do I like? Um, shoot, I need to figure this out before this commercial ends! I can’t believe it! I can’t even think of a single show I like! Um, The Office! No! That’s not it…” By the time I start naming the handful of shows that I can actually remember, Fringe comes back on and I can remember everything that happened in it so far. Then I’ll tell myself, multiple times that I’m watching Fringe and that I shouldn’t forget it! So, I usually remember the show for the next set of commercials but I’ll probably forget it again during another set.
When the show ends I actively replay the key things that happened so I’ll remember them better. This really helps me because if I don’t do it I won’t remember a single thing about it until someone says something specific about the episode to trigger my memory. However, if I’m watching a few hours of TV I’ll usually forget the shows I watched before. So, when the news comes on after Fringe on Friday, I usually can’t recall anything about the show I just watched! This forgetfulness occurs in my everyday life. I actually have to constantly relearn information I learned days and weeks before. (Again, I have some study tips that help me overcome this forgetfulness that I’ll talk about in another post).
I used this TV analogy because I watch too much of it. The reason I watch TV is because it’s easy. It’s the easiest thing in my life. It’s off when I want it off and on when I want it on. When it’s on, I can basically shut off my brain and stare at its screen for hours without any worries at all. When I watch, I don’t worry about experiments, I don’t worry about writing papers, I don’t worry about being a good fiancé, I just think about the characters on the show. I’m trying really hard to not watch so much, because I do think it’s making me complacent and I don’t like being content when there is so much more to do. I always want to get better and I strive to be the best person I can be. No matter how forgetful I am I do always remember to keep pushing forward.