why do we remember some things( our name, recognize faces, basic facts) without effort but have to consciously revise difficult concepts?

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why do we remember some things( our name, recognize faces, basic facts) without effort but have to consciously revise difficult concepts?

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It’s harder to remember difficult concepts because when you try to remember them, you have to remember more words that describe them.

If you try to remember your name, your brain only has to remember one word, and that’s easier to remember because it takes up less space and it’s smaller.

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(overly simplified but at least I explained it!)

This seems like a good source for actual facts about memory, also seems explained in a relatively simple way (there’s also some things “back” in the course, this seemed most related to the question)
https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-psychology/chapter/step-1-memory-encoding/

Kind of simplified and what makes sense for how it works?

Simplicity and exposure, as well as different scenarios.

Simple things are easy to remember, though of course it’s harder to remember those you are not exposed to. It is also easier to recall something simple if you see it in different scenarios (different example of same fact). This is why there’s learning through examples and scientific experimenting to make sure it’s a fact.

Difficult things would be simple if treated the same as some simple everyday facts. A lot of examples and exposure would make it not so difficult – when you solve integrals every other day they don’t seem *that* bad anymore, especially if you solve them in a range of use cases (like several courses – math, physics, electrical engineering stuff…) and get to understand them. Of course, if you stop using them, they become a bit harder again unless you gained a deeper understanding of them and how they work that helped you get them in the first place.

So the difference in recall is pretty much how well you understand it and how often you encounter it. Difficult concepts are harder to get to the easy recall state because they generally contain more information that you have to remember and understand beforehand. They might not be difficult if you have a good basis of all those things. Basics have fewer requirements for understanding, so you should get there faster. Stuff builds on other stuff and generally difficult things need a good basis.

Regarding deeper understanding – this could just be some simple explanation of how they work that makes it clear. Connecting new concepts to something familiar (explaining some behaviour in one field through similar behaviour in some unrelated field because both can be simplified into some mutual generic steps or whatever) makes it easier to recall and understand when encountered later. I tend to use this heavily to figure our mathematical and algorithmic behaviours.

An idea I like is that the more pathways you have to some memory (fact, concept explanation, etc), the easier it is to recall it. Pathways are created with examples of concepts, scenarios things are encountered (hearing that France is in Europe through school, recognising it on a map, seeing the question in a quiz…), and the more you have, the easier it is to remember. One day you might be at a quiz and having seen France and Europe at some quiz before in your life, that might be the memory that gets you to the correct answer that time.

Those odd pathways and “triggers” would then also be what “helps” with minds wandering off from one thought to something seemingly unrelated after several detours – the brain has some connection between the current thought and something else and decides to go down that rabbithole. Also could be how conversations tend to flow – some subconscious memory trigger here and there. Iirc, it’s also easier to recall on “trigger” – such as abcd questions; I can very much confirm this is my experience throughout my education.