A strong memory is a severely overrated asset, according to new research published in the journal Neuron.
The report, written by researchers from the University of Toronto, also concluded that forgetting things is not only very commonplace, but it actually makes us stronger.
If you are someone who prides themselves on good memory, you’ll be pretty disappointed to find out that after years of research, the ultimate goal of memory is not to transmit the most accurate information over time.
Paul Frankland and Blake Richards proposed that memory is actually best used to optimise intelligent decision-making by holding onto valuable information and letting the rest go, making room for the things that matter.
One of Frankland’s studies on mice found that when new brain cells are formed in the hippocampus, all the old memories and connections are overwritten.
”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.
We know that exercise increases the number of neurons in the hippocampus, but they’re exactly those details from your life that don’t actually matter, and that may be keeping you from making good decisions.”
One way that forgetfulness can be useful is when our brains forget specifics about past events while still remembering the large pictures. Researchers believe this allows us to generalise previous experiences better.
Just to make it clear, people who forget important things all the time are not let off the hook here. If memory loss is very frequent it can be a cause of concern.
Forgetting details every now and then is actually the sign of a healthy memory system doing exactly what it should do.
Technological advances have been helpful in allowing us to unload memories like phone numbers, events, and birthdays from our brains and freeing up space.
Ways to exercise the memory and improve it include things like making lists and trying to recall them later on in the day.
Mental arithmetic is also a great way to exercise memory because it forces you to juggle numbers in your head.
Taking up new hobbies and learning new skills like a language, musical instrument, or sport can also keep your memory on its toes.
The issue is, some people rely so heavily on technology, it makes them lazy. Who remembers anyone’s birthday anymore?
Perhaps it’s time to go a little easier on the partner who forgets your anniversary.
Or maybe not.
Are You More Forgetful Than A Fish?