A member of our forums named LunaSlave recently wrote up an interesting piece that suggests a brand new way to look at practicing your favorite fighting game. While many of you have probably heard of the term ‘learning curve,’ Luna introduces another term coined by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus. The ‘forgetting curve’ is a predictable rate at which we forget information, and by using a computer program called the Spaced Repetition System, we can remind ourselves of this almost-forgotten information at the exact moment we need to in order to make it more and more familiar in our minds.
It’s an incredibly thought-provoking look at how our minds work and how, by learning to use this system, we can embed knowledge in our memory more efficiently. Though it may seem a little complicated at first, the Spaced Repetition System could be a valuable asset to your training regimen, so definitely take the time to read this intriguing article. We’ve included a small excerpt to get you started, and the rest can be read on the SRK forums.
I’m guessing that most of you have heard of learning curves. Take a quick look around here on SRK and other fighting game forums, and you’ll find lots of statements like “Character X has a really steep learning curve” or “I bought game Y but it took me a while to figure out how to play, the learning curve was really high”
But how many of you have paid any attention to forgetting curves? The forgetting curve is something discovered by a German psychologist named Hermann Ebbinghaus back in the 1880s – basically, it just means that there’s a predictable rate at which we forget information. Ebbinghaus was also the first to describe learning curves – a widely used concept, as I’ve mentioned, but his discovery of the forgetting curve seems to be largely forgotten.
Ebbinghaus also discovered that along with this predictable rate at which we forget information, there’s a process through which we can efficiently move that information to our long-term, easily recalled memory, where it comes out with barely a thought.
How? By reminding ourselves of the information at a set time – specifically, when we’re nearly about to forget it. If we remind ourselves too early, it can be good practice but it may be time that could be spent more efficiently just playing or learning something else, not to mention doing the things we need to do in our daily lives outside of playing games. On the other hand, if we remind ourselves too late, no good either – it’s like learning all over again, which is inefficient. The trick is to remind ourselves, just before we forget, and space those reminders out over longer and longer periods until the information is comfortably embedded in our long term recall.
For about a hundred years after Ebbinghaus discovered the forgetting curve, the concept was thought to be a scientific curiosity at best. After all, just how are we supposed to calculate when we’re going to forget something? If we spent our time just doing that, we’d have very little time to learn anything new, or review it for that matter. It’s just far beyond the capacity of most to spend time continuously doing that for each item we learn. But it’s NOT beyond the capacity of computers to do it for us.