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Working Memory, and Getting Things Off Your Head

Excellent, excellent email here from Cristian Strat in response to last week's newsletter, "GSV#9: Get Things Off Your Head."

Here's Cristian -

Hey Sebastian! I was thinking about the impact of getting things off your head.

I'm not an expert but I was reading about Working Memory and the correlation between that and your general level of fluid intelligence and attention level. Apparently people can only hold about 5-7 bits of information at once for thought manipulations and reasoning. Apparently, being able to hold a few more things in your working memory makes a dramatic improvement in your thinking abilities. Consequently, a smaller capacity will make for an inferior thought process.

Now, when you try to keep things in your head (like "Don't forget to call mom at 4pm") while working, you effectively operate with a lower capacity Working Memory. You constantly have to refresh "Don't forget to call mom at 4pm". As an experiment, try to remember a 4 digit number while working on something.

The reasons for forgetting aren't really forgetting

Matt from 30Vanquish wrote that he's studied memory in the past and gotten quite a bit out of it, and he was kind enough to share some of his observations with us. Here's Matt -

So are you frustrated when you forget someone's phone number? Or when you forget one item to buy when you're at the grocery?

Well the reasons for forgetting aren't really forgetting.

It's more about interference.

The interference theory suggests that we are unable to remember memories, things, and events we encoded due to interference with other encoded memories, things, and events.

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