I cannot tell you how many times I have walked into a room to do something and completely forgotten what I was doing in there. And while my first instinct is to say, “I’m so stupid- I forgot what I was doing,” a recent study found that forgetfulness isn’t a sign of stupidity, but rather a sign of intelligence.

Excuse me, while I wipe a smug smile off my face. All jokes aside, a study carried out by the University of Toronto was published in the journal Neuron. According to the study author, Professor Blake Richard,

“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.

We know that exercise increases the number of neurons in the hippocampus, but they’re exactly those details from your life that don’t matter, and that may be keeping you from making good decisions.”

Richards and Paul Frankland believe that memory is used to help us make better decisions through storing useful information and then allowing us to forget less important things. Our brain prioritizes necessary memories over less important ones.

The information we store depends on our situation and our environment. As an example, if you are a doctor, you will likely remember anatomy, versus remembering what you nibbled on for lunch that day. While that’s a broad analogy, that is the gist of what this study is proposing. So, when we forget little details, it’s a sign that our brain is working the way it should.

Professor Richards explains this by saying, “one of the things that distinguish an environment where you’re going to want to remember stuff versus an environment where you want to forget stuff is this question of how consistent the environment is and how likely things are to come back into your life.”

Moving on, Richards says that our brain knows when information is easily accessible and prioritizes it less than something that is not. To keep your brain on its toes, regular exercise cleans up our memory and increases neurons in our hippocampus. Richards suggests exercising regularly for optimal brain function. Not only will this allow you to store more valuable information, but it also removes things that are no longer relevant for you.

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