Unlike our working memory, which can only hold about 7 things at a time, our long-term memory is basically limitless. The only bottleneck between these two is the speed at which we can move memories from the working memory to storage.
if we get overloaded, most of the information we scan past gets lost.
Brain scientists have found that understanding itself is based on long-term memory, where we store “schemas”, patterns of knowledge that give our thinking depth. Learning something literally changes our brain. The brain continues to process information long after it is received, and every time we bring a long-term memory back into working memory, the memory evolves.
New connections are formed to an old memory, and the living schema is again implanted. Even just the act of remembering something seems to make your brain better at learning new things in the future.
A quick calculation suggests that you trade around 5-10 minutes of your life for every extra fact you remember.
There’s also a great argument for using Anki to understand hard concepts, especially in research papers. That’s a slightly different process, involving multiple re-reads and building up a knowledge from very basic questions about the concepts.