Most people sometimes forget things like dates, birthdays, names of people you have met, and so on. While some people have a more efficient brain and easily memorize information, others face difficulties to remember it.
The prevailing idea in neurobiology in terms of memories has been that remembering information is king.
Yet, researchers from the University of Toronto and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) maintain that the role of forgetting certain information may be just as important.
Namely, Paul Frankland and Blake Richards claim that minor brain lapses are completely normal, as the old memories in the brain can be “overwritten” by new ones.
They also found that people with a better memory are not necessarily more intelligent, and actually claim that it can even be more useful to sometimes forget tiny facts than memorizing all details.
This study of memory focuses on remembering, and compares neurobiological and computational mechanisms underlying transience.
According to the author, Professor Richards, it is important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the things that will help you make decisions. This actually means that the interaction between these two processes, remembrance, or persistence, and transience, helps in the process of making decisions in dynamic, noisy environments.
Their findings suggest that the real purpose of memory is the optimization of decision-making and not the transmission of information. Therefore, transience enhances flexibility by reducing the influence of outdated information on memory-guided decision-making, and prevents overfitting to specific past events, promoting generalization.
The optimization of decision-making is made by filtering out these irrelevant details and focusing on things that contribute to intelligent decisions. This means that transience is equally important as persistence, as “bad memory” can be a mechanism of the brain that aims at making space for relevant information while preventing energy waste by the brain due to remembering trivial information.
However, note that you need to seek medical help if you notice that you forget large segments of important information. Yet, professor Richards explains that if you occasionally forget some details, you should not worry, as your memory system is healthy and actually does what it should be doing.
This article was initially published with a headline: “Neuroscientists Say Your Forgetfulness Is A Sign Of Extraordinary Intelligence”, which was a misleading and hyperbolic claim that did not actually revealed the true findings of the actual scientific paper.
In fact, scientists say nothing about the relationship between forgetfulness and intelligence, but that the brain erases outdated information from memory as its strategy to make more intelligent decisions, as we stated in the updated version of the article.
Therefore, we erased false data and corrected the content of the article, so the new, updated version contains accurate information only.