Ebbinghaus, H. (1908). Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology. New York, NY: Teachers College, Columbia University.

Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850–1909) is considered to be one of the founders of the experimental psychology. He developed the first scientific approach to the study of memory. Ebbinghaus was born in Germany and studied philosophy before completing his doctorate in 1873 at the University of Berlin. He then worked as a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Berlin until 1878.

In 1878, Ebbinghaus moved to the University of Breslau where he conducted his groundbreaking research on memory. He developed a method of memorizing nonsense syllables which he used to measure the time it took to remember and recall a given string of syllables. This work was published as Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology in 1908.

Ebbinghaus found that forgetting is an exponential function, meaning that the rate of forgetting accelerates over time. He proposed that memories are transient and are not stored indefinitely, but can be retrieved if the material is rehearsed periodically. He also found that the amount of material remembered is related to the amount of time spent studying it.

Ebbinghaus’s work laid the foundations of modern memory research. His findings have had a major impact on many areas of psychology, including cognitive psychology, educational psychology, and clinical psychology. His work has been used to develop effective learning strategies and to improve memory in clinical populations, such as those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

In conclusion, Hermann Ebbinghaus’s pioneering work on memory has had a lasting impact on the field of psychology. His research on the nature of memory and forgetting has been used to develop effective learning strategies and to improve memory in clinical populations.


Baddeley, A. (2008). Human Memory: Theory and Practice. Hove, UK: Psychology Press.

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Gazzaniga, M. S., Ivry, R. B., & Mangun, G. R. (2018). Cognitive neuroscience: The biology of the mind. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

Kliegel, M., Martin, M., & McDaniel, M. A. (2008). A Meta-Analysis of the Distribution of Practice Effect: Now You See It, Now You Don’t. Psychological Bulletin, 134(3), 422-449. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.134.3.422

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