We’ve all been there, you know, that moment where despite your obvious intelligence, you just can’t remember anything. You may come off as stupid at that moment, but you know better, and so do scientists.
While past research has always maintained that remembering facts makes us smarter, newer research is indicating the opposite. According to researchers Paul Franklin and Blake Richards at the University of Toronto, our habit of forgetting things can be just as important to our minds as remembering things.
“The goal of memory is not the transmission of information through time, per se. Rather, the goal of memory is to optimize decision-making. As such, transience is as important as persistence in mnemonic systems,” their study in Neuron states.
Furthermore, in their study, they discovered that forgetting things allowed us to adjust to new situations and to let go of memories that plague us. Also, forgetting can provide us with the ability to make new decisions about things, rather than focusing on past events that would thwart the process.
“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,” says Richards.
Of course, our memory is there for us to serve a purpose intellectually as well- to help us to make good decisions and to make decisions that will help us in life. However, based on this new research, it can also serve us to forget the past and to let go of situations and memories which hinder us from getting the best out of life.