We have all experienced that moment when, despite your obvious intelligence, you remember nothing. You may seem stupid at the time, but you know better than anyone and so do the scientists.
While previous research has always claimed that remembering facts makes us smarter, new research indicates the opposite. According to the University of Toronto researchers Paul Franklin and Blake Richards, our habit of forgetting things can be as important to our minds as remembering them.
“The goal of memory is not to convey information through time itself. Rather, the purpose of memory is to optimize decision-making. As such, transience is just as important as persistence in mnemonic systems,” he says in his study of neuron states.
They also found in their study that forgetting things allows us to adapt to new situations and let go of the memories that haunt us. In addition, forgetting things can allow us to make new decisions instead of focusing on past events that could derail the process.
“If you’re struggling to find your path in the world and your brain is continually generating many conflicting memories, it becomes more difficult for you to make an informed decision,” says Richards.
Of course, our memory is there to serve an intellectual purpose and help us make good decisions and choices that will help us in life. But based on this new research, it can also help us forget the past and get rid of situations and memories that prevent us from enjoying life to the fullest.