By Timothy Roberts
Being able to recall memories, whether short-term or long-term is something that we all need in life. It comes in handy when we are studying at school or when we are trying to remember where we left our keys. We also tend to use our memory at work and remembering somebody’s name is certainly a good thing.
Although many of us may consider ourselves to have a good memory, we are all going to forget things from time to time. When it happens, we might feel as if we are slipping but there may be more behind it than you realize.
Imagine this scenario; you go to the grocery store to pick up 3 items and suddenly, you forget why you were there. Even worse, you may walk from one room to another and forget why you got up in the first place!
If you often struggle with these types of problems, you will be happy to learn that there is probably nothing wrong with you. In fact, a study that was done by the Neuron Journal and it has some rather good news. It says that forgetting is part of the brain process that might actually make you smarter by the time the day is over.
Professors took part in a study at the University of Toronto and they discovered that the perfect memory actually doesn’t necessarily reflect your level of intelligence.
You might even be surprised to learn that when you forget details on occasion, it can make you smarter.
Most people would go by the general thought that remembering more means that you are smarter.
According to the study, however, when you forget a detail on occasion, it’s perfectly normal. It has to do with remembering the big picture compared to remembering little details. Remembering the big picture is better for the brain and for our safety.
Our brains are perhaps more of a computer than many of us think. The hippocampus, which is the part of the brain where memories are stored, tends to filter out the unnecessary details.
In other words, it helps us to “optimize intelligent decision making by holding onto what’s important and letting go of what’s not.”
Think about it this way; is it easier to remember somebody’s face or their name? Which is the most important?
In a social setting, it is typically better to remember both but if we were part of the animal kingdom, remembering somebody as being a threat would mean our very lives. Remembering their name would be inconsequential.
The brain doesn’t automatically decide what we should remember and what we shouldn’t. It holds new memories but it sometimes overwrites old memories.
When the brain becomes cluttered with memories, they tend to conflict with each other and that can make it difficult to make important decisions.
That is why the brain tends to hold on to those big picture memories but they are becoming less important with the advent of technology.
As an example, at one time, we would have learned how to spell words but now, we just use Google if we don’t know how to spell them. We also tend to look everything up online, from how to change a showerhead to how to cook meatloaf for dinner.
If you forget everything, you may want to consider having a checkup but if you forget things on occasion, it’s perfectly okay.
The moral of the story is, the next time you forget something, just think of it as your brain doing what it was designed to do.