Being forgetful actually means you have a sharp mind, scientists say

DUBAI: The prevailing notion in neurobiology is that the more things you remember, the sharper mind you have.

However, a recent study by the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is making headlines around the world as it suggests that it is just as important to forget certain things because it declutters the mind and help it see the bigger picture.

In other words, being forgetful does not entirely mean the person is dull.

Explaining this further, University of Toronto Scarborough Assistant Professor Blake Richards said: “The real goal of memory is to optimize decision-making.”

“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,” U of T News, the academic community’s official publication further quoted the scientist as saying.

Richards is author of a new review study focusing on the role forgetting information plays in memory, U of T News said.

He, along with co-author Paul Frankland, argue that there are actually mechanisms in the brain that makes it forget things.

“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,” said Frankland, U of T associate professor and senior scientist of neurosciences and mental health at SickKids.

Richards said there are two reasons why you may want to forget at least some of the information you come across: one, old information becomes outdated and not as important to remember; and two, the brain needs to forget some data “to prioritize the core information that is necessary for decisions.”

“If you’re trying to navigate the world and your brain is constantly bringing up multiple conflicting memories, that makes it harder for you to make an informed decision,” he said.

But, of course, forgetting details at an alarming rate is cause for concern, experts said.

Richards’ and Frankland’s article, published in the journal Neuron, was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), a 2016 Google Faculty Research Award and a Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) grant. Richards and Frankland are also supported by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) as an Associate Fellow and Senior Fellow, respectively, according to U of T News.

Staff Report

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