Is our forgetfulness a mechanism for us to be able to store more information in the brain? A new research suggests that forgetfulness is a mechanism of defense of our brain, to avoid that it becomes overwhelmed with excess of information.
This study suggests that forgetfulness is a healthy part of good brain functioning, and although this does not stop us from forgetting the car keys, it helps us to understand why we forget so much in our day-to-day life.
Researchers at the University of Toronto in Canada believe that memory is not meant to convey reliable information, but rather to convey the most useful information that can help us make smart decisions in the future, and therefore the brain erases all the details it considers irrelevant, while focusing on things that can help us make important decisions.
Researchers Paul Frankland and Blake Richards analyzed data from previously published studies that suggested different ways of functioning for memory, while some focused on the neurobiology of recall and persistence, others focused on the neurobiology of forgetfulness.
Multiple evidences were found regarding the existence of mechanisms that promote memory loss, mechanisms that are independent from those used in the storage of information.
If it were not important to brain health, why would the brain spend resources erasing memories? The researchers found two possible reasons.
The first is that forgetfulness helps us to adjust to new situations by discarding memories that the brain considers to be no longer necessary and the second is that forgetfulness allows us to generalize past events in order to make better decisions about new events.
If we travel around the world, and our brain will be constantly reminding us of all the useless memories we have had during this trip, and by some point we will eventually get confused, and with little ability to make decisions efficiently.
Researchers also believe that the speed at which we forget things is directly dependent on the environment and the situation we are at the moment. They came to the conclusion that the aim of the memory is not to remember everything, but to remember what is necessary so that we can make the decisions expeditiously and efficiently.