View Full Version : Article: How We Remember to Remember

08-21-13, 08:33 PM
I found this interesting, though wish there was a bit more background detail:

"Remind me not to forgetů" I often say to my roommate. My phone charger. The sandwich I made to take to work. The bill I need to put in the mail.
The way our brain handles remembering to remember something, called prospective memory, has been somewhat of a mystery to scientists. New research probes how our brain processes the intention to act at a certain point in time--like remembering to grab something before walking out the door or to take a pill at a certain time--finding that it involves two distinct brain processes.

I hadn't heard the term "prospective memory" before, but it seems to be something I have serious issues with. It's always seemed like magic to me when people remember to do things at certain times without reminders. This ranges from short term things like meeting someone in a few minutes, to long term things like birthdays. Either way, the odds of my remembering at a useful time seem to be no greater than my remembering them at any other time.

For example, if someone tells me to meet them in ten minutes, and I don't set an alarm to remind me, it will probably occur to me sometime in the next couple of hours that I have (or had) the meeting scheduled, but the odds of my recalling it in ten minutes, or even remembering to check the clock periodically, are very very small. Even if I set an alarm to remind me, and get up to go to the meeting, if someone stops me in the hall to ask me something else, I may well forget where I was going and go somewhere else.Similarly, I may remember that someone has a birthday next month and that I should remember it, but the odds of my remembering it a time when I would act on it are slim to none, absent technological reminders.

Reading some of the accounts of "time blindness" in people with ADHD really struck a chord with me in the past. I wonder if this is a related issue or something totally separate?

08-21-13, 08:40 PM

Nothing worse than being told to "try and remember things from now on".

How is that even possible?

How does one simply try harder to remember?

Remembering has nothing to do with effort. So it wouldn't matter how hard I tried.

08-22-13, 07:23 AM
I don't remember anything - and have alerts for everything.
Actually wouldn't even be able to tell you what happened yesterday as it merges with the day before - can remember what actually happened ie conversation with x,y,z and what we talked about
- just not which day it was on.

08-22-13, 07:25 AM
Reading some of the accounts of "time blindness" in people with ADHD really struck a chord with me in the past. I wonder if this is a related issue or something totally separate?

Time blindness is a great way to describe what I've just tried to describe - complete inability to remember what happened when - what happened isn't too bad as long as I'm interested (and so paying attention)
- it's just that the 'when' part, that I absolutely can't do ... ... ...

08-22-13, 09:00 AM
If so, tried-and-true memory-boosting techniques can help. “If stress is causing forgetfulness, it can be helpful to use reminders—like sticky notes placed where they will catch your attention—to trigger a memory,” Zoladz says.

stress stress stress

08-22-13, 09:03 AM
The question might be - are our memories (including those related to future appointments etc) degrading because of stress (our stress sensitivity) or some other reason ?

Personally - I'd quite like to have no memory, if that were possible.
We'd be able to forget all of the many horrible things that people have done over recorded history.

I guess it'd only do to lose memory - post-emergence of a social species though - since we're require to learn from the past -
that is - until we've learnt from the past.

Most of what we're taught or learn is arbitrary nonsense - and as we all know here -
'the point in life is to be happy'

- and not to have a powerful memory.

What do people want to remember ? exactly.

A language ? But why not one of the several thousand others ?
The history of one nation ? But what of the other periods and nations ?
One programming language ? But what of the others ?
One author's books ? But what of the many other authors ?

And so it continues.

It's all, pretty much - the same - I don't really want to be burdened by deja vu on a moment by moment basis.

08-22-13, 10:17 AM
Oh, how simple! Piece of cake! It describes a pretty natural process for people without ADHD, and isn't automatically transferable to us.

In the initial example, the speaker is asking for help from another person to remember things. IMHO, that's pretty much the most successful strategy, because the chances that I'll remember on my own are pretty slim.

I can put something on top of my purse to remind me to take it along with me. I take it off to put my purse on my shoulder and leave it behind on the table.

I can write to-do lists and religiously check things off until I'm changing the laundry and notice one of the cats left a hairball, or get a phone call, or see something that I could do while I'm waiting for a machine to finish, and then the to-do list goes to pot.

My brain makes mnemonic associations that are irrelevant, and make no sense to anyone but me, and if one of them pops up, unbidden, I can go into almost a trance state of "remembering." The process the article describes can work, but in a very limited fashion, and even then, not all the time. As I've said many times before, it took me months to teach myself to put my glasses in the same place every time I took them off. Right now, I'm trying to teach myself to scoop the cat boxes right after I pick up the cats' breakfast bowls. . .guess what I didn't do yet?

So yeah, it's nice to know, and it is possible, but don't beat yourself up if it's not as easy as the article makes it out to be. One thing at a time, and take advantage of the friendly NTs in your life for all the other reminders.