Being forgetful could actually be a good thing for you, science suggests.
Most of us know someone who you would describe as ‘forgetful’, perhaps you are that person.
But these forgetful people often have something in common, they tend to forget things because the are too busy thinking about other things.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, new scientific research suggests that the habit of constantly thinking about ‘other things’ is a sign of high intelligence. It makes sense really, a powerful mind is not usually one that is still, but constantly moving.
The new paper, entitled ‘The Persistence and Transience of Memory‘ published by Paul Frankland and Blake Richards, both of the University of Toronto and at the center of the paper is the novel idea that ‘forgetting is just as important as remembering’.
The research centers around the notion that the key to intelligence is not to simply take on new information all the time, but to guide and optimize’ intelligent decision making by keeping hold of the important information, and forget the rest.
“The real goal of memory is to optimize decision-making,”
“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.”
The research debunks the old idea that forgetfulness comes from a misfiring of neurons in the brain, instead that forgetfulness is the product of the brain rejecting information it has rendered as unimportant.
“We find plenty of evidence from recent research that there are mechanisms that promote memory loss, and that these are distinct from those involved in storing information,”
Frankland’s research showed how a growth of certain parts of the hippocampus actually promotes forgetfulness. He says that in an ever changing world, it is important for the brain to learn how to forget outdated and un-needed information in favor newer, more important facts.
Richards says that the best way to optimize your brain power is to streamline your thoughts and not bombard your brain with ‘useless’ information.
“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 given the circumstances, and an important aspect in helping you do that is being able to forget some information.”
Via Idea Pod