Every one today strives to stay healthy, physically and mentally. We want to keep our minds sharp and alert.
Most people would think that having a good memory would indicate health and intelligence.
And that being forgetful signals the opposite. But a recent paper published in the scientific journal Neuron says this isn’t so.
The report tells us that being forgetful is quite normal and not indicative of mental decline. It also says that it can actually make us smarter.
Report researchers Paul Frankland and Blake Richards of the University of Toronto say that forgetting things is what your brain is supposed to do.
They say that the goal of your memory is not to transmit the most accurate information that your brain has compiled. Its purpose is to support the decision-making process by shedding information that’s not important and holding on to information that is.
“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,” said Richards, according to CNN.
The paper’s conclusions were derived from years of data compiled on memory, memory loss, as well as human and animal brain activity.
“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,” said Richards.
“And when you look at what’s needed to make intelligent decisions, we would argue that it’s healthy to forget some things.”
The study found that new brain cells in mice are formed in an area called the hippocampus, this is the part of the brain that learns new stuff.
When new connections are made, old ones are overwritten and harder to access. Researchers say that this can help us to evolve.
“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,” Richards said.
But there’s a threshold for what’s healthy and not healthy to forget. If you’re forgetting things you’ve recently read, people you just met, or where you parked the car then you might have a problem.
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It might indicate a health problem. So, use your better judgment when it comes to your memory and remind yourself that it’s not supposed to be perfect but it is supposed to function.
“You don’t want to forget everything, and if you’re forgetting a lot more than normal that might be cause for concern,” said Ricahrd. “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.”
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