You know those people who always boast about having a perfect memory? Maybe they shouldn’t, because having total recall is totally overrated. That’s according to a new paper in the journal Neuron, which concludes that forgetting things is not just normal, it actually makes us smarter.
In the new report, researchers Paul Frankland and Blake Richards of the University of Toronto propose that the goal of memory is not to transmit the most accurate information over time. Rather, they say, it’s to optimize intelligent decision-making by holding onto what’s important and letting go of what’s not.
RELATED: 8 Ways Sex Affects Your Brain
“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,” says Richards, an associate fellow in the Learning in Machines and Brains program.
The researchers came to this conclusion after looking at years of data on memory, memory loss, and brain activity in both humans and animals. One of Frankland’s own studies in mice, for example, found that as new brain cells are formed in the hippocampus—a region of the brain associated with learning new things—those new connections overwrite old memories and make them harder to access.
This constant swapping of old memories for new ones can have real evolutionary benefits, they say. For example, it can allow us to adapt to new situations by letting go of outdated and potentially misleading information. “If you’re trying to navigate the world and your brain is constantly bringing up conflicting memories, that makes it harder for you to make an informed decision,” says Richards.
Our brains also help us forget specifics about past events while still remembering the big picture, which the researchers think gives us the ability to generalize previous experiences and better apply them to current situations.
“We all admire the person who can smash Trivial Pursuit or win at Jeopardy, but the fact is that evolution shaped our memory not to win a trivia game, but to make intelligent decisions,” says Richards. “And when you look at what’s needed to make intelligent decisions, we would argue that it’s healthy to forget some things.”
RELATED: 12 Unexpected Things That Mess With Your Memory
So what does that mean for those of us who frequently forget things we just read, people we just met, and where we put our keys? For one, we should stop being so hard on ourselves, says Richards—to a certain extent.
“You don’t want to forget everything, and if you’re forgetting a lot more than normal that might be cause for concern,” he says. “But if you’re someone who forgets the occasional detail, that’s probably a sign that your memory system is perfectly healthy and doing exactly what it should be doing.”
Especially in today’s computers-at-our-fingertips society, Richards says, our brains no longer need to store information like phone numbers and facts easily found on Google. “Instead of storing this irrelevant information that our phones can store for us, our brains are freed up to store the memories that actually do matter for us,” he says.
Richards also recommends “cleaning out” your memory system on a regular basis by doing regular gym workouts. “We know that exercise increases the number of neurons in the hippocampus,” he says. Yes, that may cause some memories to be lost, he says—“but they’re exactly those details from your life that don’t actually matter, and that may be keeping you from making good decisions.”
This article originally appeared on Health.com
This article originally appeared in Health.com
Discover How Laminine™ Can Improve Your Health... Watch The Video Above!
Laminine™ Will Help Anyone. The Benefits, When Taken Regularly May Include...
Make 2017... the Year You Improve Your Health!
Join Thousands in 42 Countries
(shown at the bottom of this page) Who Are Already Seeing Amazing Health Benefits from
Regular Use of Laminine™ & Laminine™ Omega Plus!
"The Happy Pill"
Laminine™ is a
Natural, Synergistic SuperFood
that contains 22 amino
acids, trace minerals, vitamins and Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF)
The perfect combination of life-giving sustenance sourced from land, sea
Its source is from the "Miracle of
Clinical Studies have been conducted which showed Laminine's™ positive effects on Physical, Mental, Emotional Strengths and Overall Health. Laminine™ is an all Natural Product
CLICK HERE To Join My Group & Order (Wholesale) & Choose the "Laminine™ Activation Pack"
After Clicking on One of the Links Below, Just CLICK the "Click Here to Agree and Continue" Button in the "Informed Consent and Participation Agreement" Form... to Begin Your Own Personal Q & A Session on How Laminine and Laminine Omega +++ Can Help You Achieve PERFECT Health.