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Mem Cognit. 1998 Mar;26(2):320-9.

On forgetting the historical past.

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Utrecht University Research Institute for Language and Speech (UiLOTS), The Netherlands.


In this paper, empirical data are presented related to memory and time perception. The data are the frequencies with which specific calendar years are cited in newspaper texts. When plotted, the curves produced by the time series of these frequencies turn out to be independent of the languages and cultures in which the texts have been written as well as the year and the year density of the text corpus. The frequency of a specific year is inversely proportional to the distance from that year to the year in which the texts were written. It is argued that these curves are forgetting curves. It is suggested that the curves might be explained in terms of the "cognitive distance" between past and present. An argument is presented based on the curve representing the frequencies with which future years are cited in newspaper texts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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