New research: the brain forgets almost as quickly as it receives
From the press release (via Engadget):
It appears that information is lost in the brain as quickly as it can be “delivered” from the senses. [...] These new findings therefore indicate that the dynamics of the cerebral cortex are specifically tailored to the processing of brief snapshots of the outside world.
In other words, abstraction sets in quickly. That would explain why eyewitness reports are so unreliable: Everyone abstracts differently. I wonder how photographic memory works, then.