Our memories and retention capabilities have been tremendously changed over the course of the last decade – with ease of digital memory provided by smartphones and other devices.
If you find yourself forgetting details here and there, you’re not the only one. And now scientists believe it may actually be associated with a process that aids learning.
Forgetting is learning
Forgetting something may actually be a form of learning, scientists recently outlined in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience. While most of our social conditioning makes us believe forgetting is an error on the brain’s part, it’s actually an very “functional feature” of the brain, NeuroScienceNews reported.
Whether we retain access to certain memories or lose them actually depends on our “environmental feedback and predictability.” If you find yourself forgetting more often than others, it means that you’re more likely to indulge in flexible behaviour and smarter decision-making.
For instance, some people who don’t enjoy a certain mobile operating software tend to never forget a particular bad experience. This prevents them from giving it a shot again in the future, even though it may have significantly improved.
Essentially, scientists believe forgetting is as essential as remembering to balanced living. Research indicates that instead of memory loss, us losing access to those memories is what causes us to forget things.
The team posits that that forgetting happens due to a “circuit remodelling” in brain cells (neurons) called “engram cells” that store memories. Think of it as losing your external hard drive. While the content stored on it may live forever, your access to it is effectively lost.
Neuroscience News. (2022, January 14). New Theory Proposes Forgetting Is Actually a Form of Learning.
Ryan, T. J. (2022, January 13). Forgetting as a form of adaptive engram cell plasticity. Nature.