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While cramming, many times we tend to remember present experiences and to forget the past ones. It seems that our present experiences replace the past ones.

However, in physical activities like sports the more we practice the more our skills develop. So it seems our experiences (i.e. memory) tend to accumulate.

So, how do these conflicting facts coexists?

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  • $\begingroup$ This is not an answer. It is a remark on the motivation behind the question. Learning through 'cramming' only results in shallow memories and surface learning. Students who 'cram' the material from the first semester usually forget it within six months regardless of whether they have to 'cram' again for the second semester. Then they forget most of the second semester's information by the start of the Summer. Students who develop an understanding of the material through practice retain it in a manner similar to how you 'remember' being good at sports. $\endgroup$ – Daron Apr 5 '17 at 9:20
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    $\begingroup$ You describe two different types of memory, procedural memory and declarative memory. In declarative memory (fact learning) memories decay over time unless they are used (e.g. are related to newly learned facts). The fact that older memories decay may be because they are unrelated and therefore not used. The same goes with procedural memories, they may also decay over time when not used. However, if you keep training similar/related things your skills will indeed increase. Unrelated skills will decay also. If I can find a reference I'll formulate a proper reference. $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Apr 5 '17 at 11:22
  • $\begingroup$ cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/13118/… Here is an older question where memory and decay are discussed rather superficially. The papers cited in my answer may be nice though :) $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Apr 5 '17 at 13:02
  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Can memorising a new thing erase existing memories? $\endgroup$ – Robin Kramer Apr 12 '17 at 12:54