So many times, I’ve kicked myself for not remembering where I put my keys or for completely spacing out on a question I definitely know the answer to, but according to a new study in Neuron, these bursts of forgetfulness are actually good for your brain.
Forgetting information doesn’t mean that your brain is failing you. In fact, it actually means the total opposite — letting go of some information helps your mind work better.
The research concluded that the main goal of your brain isn’t to remember every single detail of your life, rather, its key focus is to make the best decisions in the future. I'll be sure to remember that next time I can't find my car keys or phone.
Remembering everything can be quite overwhelming since there’s new information constantly flooding your brain. To remember the stuff that’s really important, your mind actually needs to get rid of some of the fluff, says study co-author Blake Richards, assistant professor of Biology at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Richards told The Summit Express, “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.”
(In that case, I guess I shouldn't feel bad the next time my cousin asks for help with her math homework, and I can’t remember how to solve an equation.)
Interestingly enough, the mind actually makes a point of actively losing track of the little details. The part of your brain that’s responsible for that is called the hippocampus. The presence of new neurons in the hippocampus is what encourages your brain to forget, says study co-auther Paul Frankland, who is also an associate professor at the University of Toronto and senior scientist of neurosciences and mental health at The Hospital for Sick Children.
In other words, your brain isn’t messing up, it’s just doing its job.
He also states, “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.”
So, it's OK if you suddenly forget your route to work because you learned a route to get to a new restaurant.
The bottom line is there’s no need to be jealous of the people on Jeopardy or the people who smash trivia games.
“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,” says Richards.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Flickr user hobvias sudoneighm