Understanding content while I study, but completely unable to remember it

purrsian

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So this is something that has become a lot more noticeable for me in recent months. I'm studying acupuncture part time and am capable of studying for up to an hour at a time with short breaks in that hour. While I'm studying, I totally understand what I'm reading/listening to and I am actively learning - I am processing and thinking about what I'm learning, not just passively reading/listening. However, when it comes time to quiz myself or try to explain what I just learned, it's like my brain can't retrieve the information. This can happen even immediately after I've learned something and thought to myself "yes I understood all of that really well".

It really does feel like the information is in there and that I just can't retrieve it. It's kind of like the feeling of a word being on the tip of your tongue - it's there, but you can't quite find it and get it out.

Does anyone else get this or have any suggestions on how to work on it? I'm looking at starting on some fish oil to help brain health, but are there any other supplements more appropriate? Even now, I feel like I should know what nutrients help brain health (because it's literally what I study) and I can't quite place what they are lol
 
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Does anyone else get this
Yes.
Fortunately, a lot of times when the cognizant part of my mind isn't retrieving information the intuitive part of my mind can find something about it via the internet's search engines.

It used to be that I readily remembered which book or books I had for reference on things like planes and trains and army tanks had the answer to something someone was asking on a hobby forum & even remembered its physical location within the book's mass; but now I'm even forgetting having some books.

or have any suggestions on how to work on it?
Sorry, that's one where I don't have knowledge.
 

Hipsman

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This sounds familiar to what I experience with learning programming - the hardest part is remembering the syntax and commands. Anything that requires remembering allot of information like immune system functioning or virus functioning is very very hard to remember anything. I didn’t figure out solution to this except getting into remission, but this is a symptom of brain fog. Supplement: fish oil (1.5g of epa/dha omega-3 a day, was suggested this one) and selenium helped me with brain fog, but I’m still having hard time remembering what I’ve learned as I described in the beginning. Also, I'm able to learn only on good days witch happen around every second day.
 
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ljimbo423

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However, when it comes time to quiz myself or try to explain what I just learned, it's like my brain can't retrieve the information.
This happens to me quite often. Some supplements that help some people are Huperzine, Vinpocetine, Ginkgo Biloba extract and L-tyrosine or N-acetyl-L-tyrosine.

These all act very fast, usually within 30 minutes or so, except the Ginkgo, that might take some time to work. I'm assuming if you are sensitive to supplements you know to start at very low doses and slowly work your way up.:)
 
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Oh yes! I went to graduate school while sick, and was amazed both at how poor my memory was and how I had to use completely different strategies to learn!

A few strategies that were helpful for me:
  • Stop much more frequently to quiz yourself. Sometimes I had to do this every page or two! This gives you less time to forget what you've read.
  • Try reading out loud and seeing if that helps. Sometimes both speaking and hearing yourself speak can help you remember the material.
  • Take notes as you read/study. The act of writing (actually writing, not typing) might help you remember the information.
  • Every page or so, stop, go back, and summarize the information you've read. Try to do this aloud!
  • Before moving on after a break, go over the previous material (or your notes on it) to review it.
 
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A few strategies that were helpful for me:
I was hoping you'd weigh in, @RebeccaRe ...all that fresh experience you have under your belt.

Retrieval is a big deal now here. And differentiating between subtleties. So I now screw up on the trick question. Or where two answers are really similar. Or: there were two things, and now I can't keep track of whether it was the one or the other. The best hope is: the multiple choice test without trick questions!

Your pointers are familiar: what I did when I was working still, having to pass training tests. Like taking notes, reviewing it more, slowing it down.....

So when it stops working...(thinking, retrieving)...it seems to also just abruptly STOP. Those darn mitochondria, perhaps.

I was haphazardly doing Duolingo. (quite erratic). Generally, (and Im just in the beginner mode)...I Ace those little tests. But come back four days later, and can't remember Duck. But I can see the page where I noted duck, and it starts with a P. Thats at least something!

Every evening around dusk: I became consternated over whether it was Buenos Tardes or Buenos noches. I would generally mutter the whole list...when passing others at dusk. As I headed back to my little abode to suck my thumb.
 
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Buenos Tardes or Buenos noches.
That brings to mind several years back when I was on Facebook and in a couple fibromyalgia groups and one night in one of them we were all being silly and I got a big laugh out of the Hispanic gals with my, "Oh, muchas gracias means thank you? I had always thought that was Spanish for "They just mowed the lawn at the nudist colony", because there in Georgia it was said like "much ass grassy ass".
 

purrsian

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Supplement: fish oil (1.5g of epa/dha omega-3 a day, was suggested this one) and selenium helped me with brain fog.
Thank you, I knew fish oil was good but I shall add selenium to my list of things to try!

Some supplements that help some people are Huperzine, Vinpocetine, Ginkgo Biloba extract and L-tyrosine or N-acetyl-L-tyrosine. These all act very fast, usually within 30 minutes or so, except the Ginkgo, that might take some time to work. I'm assuming if you are sensitive to supplements you know to start at very low doses and slowly work your way up.:)
Thank you, I've literally never heard of the first 2 and don't know much about the others, so they'll all go on my list of things to both research and try. I'm sensitive to medications but I'd never really thought about the need to start slow with supplements too - makes sense and it's something I'll definitely do now.

  • Stop much more frequently to quiz yourself. Sometimes I had to do this every page or two! This gives you less time to forget what you've read.
  • Try reading out loud and seeing if that helps. Sometimes both speaking and hearing yourself speak can help you remember the material.
  • Take notes as you read/study. The act of writing (actually writing, not typing) might help you remember the information.
  • Every page or so, stop, go back, and summarize the information you've read. Try to do this aloud!
  • Before moving on after a break, go over the previous material (or your notes on it) to review it.
Thank you, these are great tips! I think stopping and reviewing more often is most definitely something I should be doing. I'm so focused on getting through the content and not getting behind that it's easy to not review often enough, especially when I think I probably need to review more often than when I was healthier.

Retrieval is a big deal now here. And differentiating between subtleties. So I now screw up on the trick question. Or where two answers are really similar. Or: there were two things, and now I can't keep track of whether it was the one or the other. The best hope is: the multiple choice test without trick questions!
We fortunately do have a multiple choice section in most exams, but it's a smaller portion. Usually if an exam is worth 50 marks, multiple choice will be about 10 marks, short answer about 15 marks and case studies about 25 marks. That's why it's so important to really get the information, because I have to be able to process it so I can make a diagnosis and decide on most appropriate treatments and actually explain that diagnosis and treatment plan.

The differentiating between subtleties is a big one for me, as we are often learning about a bunch of similar health conditions and have to be able to determine how to differentiate them. I think that's what can be so overwhelming! For example in internal med, we did about 4 weeks on digestive disorders so I need to know about constipation, diarrhoea, various types of dysentery, IBS, IBD, epigastric pain, acid regurgitation, abdominal pain, abdominal distention and nausea/vomiting. Each one of those has on average 4-8 presenting patterns (Chinese medicine, so different approach to biomed). So my study is literally all about damn subtleties! I think that realising this will help though, as it shows I need to highlight the overall definition of each condition as well as the key differentiating factors.


Thanks for all your ideas so far guys. It's given me a few ideas on supplements to try and study strats to implement and I'm definitely going to start re-evaluating my study techniques, as I think my brain function has declined enough to need to adapt my study techniques to my new needs. Sorry it took me a bit to reply - Christmas period is hard, I know you all understand. Merry Christmas and happy new year to you all! I hope 2020 brings us all many spoons!