On Common Ground: Jost's (1897) law of forgetting and Ribot's (1881) law of retrograde amnesia

Psychol Rev. 2004 Oct;111(4):864-79. doi: 10.1037/0033-295X.111.4.864.


T. Ribot's (1881) law of retrograde amnesia states that brain damage impairs recently formed memories to a greater extent than older memories, which is generally taken to imply that memories need time to consolidate. A. Jost's (1897) law of forgetting states that if 2 memories are of the same strength but different ages, the older will decay more slowly than the younger. The main theoretical implication of this venerable law has never been worked out, but it may be the same as that implied by Ribot's law. A consolidation interpretation of Jost's law implies an interference theory of forgetting that is altogether different from the cue-overload view that has dominated thinking in the field of psychology for decades.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amnesia, Retrograde / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Psychological Theory
  • Retention, Psychology*
  • Time Factors