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I have observed that when learning new words (vocabulary building), if we are presented with, say, 5 new words in these 2 manners:

  1. only 5 words presented in isolation
  2. 40 words presented, with 5 words emphasized

then, the retention of those 5 words is more in the second case.

Similarly, if we are studying some subject, and we are presented with a summary of important points in one case, and a collection of several points with important points underlined, then there is more retention in the second case.

To generalize the observation: Memory retention is more if information is presented accentuated among a heap of other information, than when it is presented in isolation.

Is my observation correct? Have other people witnessed it in some form? And why does this happen?

Further, can someone point me to some references if research has been done on this? I couldn't think of a keyword to search for this on the web.

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