Memory Consolidation

How to make memories stick?
What should we hold on to from the past and what is it good to let go of?

Memory is a living and breathing part of the brain, constantly changing and not fixed. However, there is a philosophical problem questioned by Nietzche on Memory and learning.

There is a line which divides the observable brightness from the unilluminated darkness, that we know how to forget at the right time just as well as we remember at the right time, that we feel with powerful instinct the time when we must perceive historically and when unhistorically. – On the Use and Abuse of History for Life – Nietzche 



  • Intertwined 
    • Old Memories change as we learn new things 
  • Processes
    • Consolidation – process that takes brain state in active memory
      • Store STM(short-term memory) to LTM(Long-term memory)
      • By modifying the synapses on dendrites of neurons 
      • Occurs during sleep
    • Reconsolidation – Recalling a memory 
      • Changes the memory itself
    • Both occur during sleep


A person who wanted to feel utterly and only historically would be like someone who was forced to abstain from sleep, or like the beast that is to continue its life only from rumination to constantly repeated rumination.- Nietzche 


  • False Memories 
    • Indistinguishable from “real” ones 
    • Possible to implant 
      • Through suggestions and Imagination

The beast lives unhistorically, for it gets up in the present like a number without any odd fraction left over; it does not know how to play a part, hides nothing, and appears in each moment exactly and entirely what it is – Nietzche 

  • Learning 
    • Effective to space over time 
    • Spend 10 min each month rather than 1 hour in a day
  • Memorization – Create Meaningful groups 
    • Simplify materials 



Observe the herd that is grazing beside you. It does not know what yesterday or today is. It springs around, eats, rests, digests, jumps up again, and so from morning to night and from day to day, with its likes and dislikes closely tied to the peg of the moment, and thus neither melancholy nor weary. To witness this is hard for man because he boasts to himself that his human race is better than the beast and yet looks with jealousy at its happiness. For he wishes only to live like the beast, neither weary nor amid pains, and he wants it in vain because he does not will it as the animal does. One day the man demands of the beast: “Why do you not talk to me about your happiness and only gaze at me?” The beast wants to answer, too, and say: “That comes about because I always immediately forget what I wanted to say.” But by then the beast has already forgotten this reply and remains silent so that the man wonders on once more.

Nietzsche argues that this concept applies at both a personal and societal level – The skill required of a person in order to live a happier life is one of knowing essentially when to remember and when to forget. Consider the state of mind of animals. A being living in the present moment is not held back from the joy of that simple experience by their own history, traumas, and past.


The person who cannot set himself down on the crest of the moment, forgetting everything from the past, who is not capable of standing on a single point, like a goddess of victory, without dizziness or fear, will never know what happiness is.– Friedrich Nietzsche

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