Remembering jokesI wonder if anyone has any thoughts about why we tend to find it harder to remember jokes as we age. Many, many people have told me that this is the case. Certainly it is the case...

Remembering jokes

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts about why we tend to find it harder to remember jokes as we age. Many, many people have told me that this is the case. Certainly it is the case with me!

Asked on by vangoghfan

11 Answers | Add Yours

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

To respond to pohnpei: I find that I still have a pretty good memory for all kinds of arcane information that I teach, but perhaps that is because I do in fact teach it again and again.

Jokes are just not as important, but I think I did remember them more easily when I was younger.

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I tend to forget jokes because I hear far too many. The only ones I ever remember are the ones which I hear multiple times. Older jokes are easier for me to remember given the many times I have heard them.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Are you talking about new jokes or old jokes?  If it is an old joke, you may not remember it because you have not said it in a while.  Also, you might confuse a new joke with an old joke, making the new joke harder to remember too.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I can think of two reasons we might have more trouble remembering jokes as we age.  First of all, we tend to find remembering things in general more difficult as we age.  The older we grow, the more our brain connects begin to break down.  Eventually, we will find it difficult to remember even the most important details.

Another reason has to do with the importance of remembering the joke.  When we are younger, there aren't as many stresses and important things to remember.  As we age, we have important dates, deadlines, and other major details to remember.  A joke is quickly brushed from our memory because we need to remember more important things.

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Personally, I've always had trouble remembering jokes. I think my ability to remember riddles has gotten better over time as has my ability to remember certain other types of information.

The functional validation theory cited in post 2 seems to explain this. I don't tell jokes very often, but I've used the same riddles time and again and the other areas of memory improvement are related to things I recall often.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I'm very curious... do you find jokes harder to remember than other things?  I suppose that, if you do, it would be because jokes are really random things to remember that don't fit neatly into your mental database.  If you can't connect them to other things like we can with a lot of what we remember, they're harder to remember than other "data."

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

As the above post mentions, forgetfulness comes with aging, and I only wish I could remember all my great past experiences--much less all the jokes I have heard and forgotten. One way I am able to remember many of the jokes I have heard is to remember who first told them to me. I have one old friend who nearly always greeted me with a new joke, so I can still remember some of her gems--most of which can not be retold on eNotes.

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Remembering jokes is ultimately a cognitive ability, and our cognitive abilities decline as we get older, unfortunately. It is called age-related memory impairment, and it affects all adults. Psychologists don't exactly know why, but theorize that it is a result of lack of use (especially rote memorization, which we don't do much after we get out of school) as well as physiological changes. You can't stop the physical changes, but perhaps if you tell the joke repeatedly, you can remember it better.

wanderista's profile pic

wanderista | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

Just a re-write of what I just said, making more sense:

As you age, the ability to recall on insignificant events becomes harder to do. Our brain puts important, more urgent events such as Meeting 5:30 Tuesday before events or experiences that are not as important. Like riddles, jokes are considered insignificant and our brain has difficulty recalling the joke as it as pressed the 'Delete' button in the cerebral cortex. Having a naturally good memory, or training yourself to remember insignificant events can conquer this cognitive problem.

wanderista's profile pic

wanderista | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

As you age, the ability to recall on insignificant events becomes harder to do. Our brain puts important, more urgent events such as Meeting 5:30 Tuesday. Jokes however, are insignificant and our brain does not need to remember this information.

loraaa's profile pic

loraaa | Student | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

I suggest you a simple solution "to this problem":
Try to sit with your friends and remember the jokes "that occurred in the past."
I think the man does not like to forget jokes... ^_^

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