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The Decay theory states that when something new is learned, a neurochemical "memory trace" is formed, but over time this trace tends to disintegrate, unless it is occassionaly used.
Additional recommended knowledge
Decay theory suggests that the passage of time always increases forgetting. However there is one circumstance where old memories can be stronger than more recent ones. Older memories are sometimes more resistant to shocks or physical assaults on the brain than recent memories.
The decay theory along with the interference theory, motivated forgetting and retrieval failure theory are four suggested reasons why people forget. Decay alone, although it may play some role, cannot entirely explain lapses in long-term memory. A trace is formed by sensory neurones -- this trace is a memory. When a person forgets, the trace is lost.
Another theory of forgetting in short-term memory, or STM, is the Displacement Theory which suggests that new memory traces displace or erase old ones.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Decay_theory". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|