Forgetting Things Could Actually Be Making You Smarter

A built-in mechanism designed to make use smarter


According to a new research by the University of Toronto in Canada, memory is intended to help transmit the most useful information that can help us make smart decisions in the future. If you forgetting things, this may be because of a safety mechanism in the brain. The mechanism a healthy part of the brain’s operation that makes sure that we’re not overloaded with information.

If you’re always forgetting where you left your house keys, it could also teach us more about how the brain operates. That is what, scientists are still trying to discover.

Blake Richards, one of the researcher said, “It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world.”

Richards along with his colleague Paul Frankland primarily studied papers taking different approaches to the idea of memory. They also studied the neurobiology of remembering/ persistence and neurobiology of forgetting/ transience.

By doing this, they found that there are mechanisms that promote memory loss. And these are instincts from those involved in storing information.

Frankland said, “The deliberate weakening of the synaptic connections between neurons that help to encode memories, as well as signs that new neurons overwriting existing memories, to make them harder to access.”

Although, there might be two reasons behind why the brain forgets the things.

  1. Forgetting things helps us adjust to new situations by letting go of memories we don’t need.
  2. It allows us to generalize past events to help us make decisions about new ones. This is a concept known as regularization in term of artificial intelligence.

Richard said, “If you’re trying to navigate the world and your brain is constantly bringing up multiple conflicting memories, that makes it harder for you to make an informed decision.”

According to researchers, the amount of forgetting we do could depend on the environment, with a faster pace of change requiring a faster pace of forgetting too.

Meanwhile, research suggests that the certain level of forgetfulness is actually a built-in mechanism designed to make use smarter.

Richard said, “We always idealize the person who can smash a trivia game, but the point of memory is not being able to remember who won the Stanley Cup in 1972.”

“The point of memory is to make you an intelligent person who can make decisions. It is an important aspect of helping you do that is being able to forget some information.”


See stories of the future in your inbox each morning.