Do you frequently find that you forget you had arrangements with a friend or can’t remember why you needed to go to the store? If so, you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself because it’s possible that you are brighter than you give yourself credit for.
According to new research conducted by the University of Toronto, being forgetful may actually be an indicator of a higher intelligence.
The findings show that your memory helps optimize decision making by only recalling valuable information and dismissing the useless details, which is effectively the same as making room for what counts.
That’s just your brain deleting useless memories.
For instance, if the brain is able to recall the wider picture of an event that occurred in the past while it cannot remember the minor details about what happened, this enables us to better generalize previous experiences, as opposed to remembering every precise detail of the event.
“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,” explained Professor Blake Richards, one of the publishers of the study.
“Forgetting details every now and again is a sign of a healthy memory.”
The situation and environment determine which information is lost. A worker at a large department store, for instance, wouldn’t recall all the many clients they saw every day, whereas a worker in a smaller boutique might recall the regulars.
In fact, it’s a sign of a healthy memory that it operates the way it’s supposed to when you forget certain information every once in a while.
Richards suggests that the most effective method for long-term memory storage is to avoid the temptation to commit everything to memory. If your mind is continuously being overloaded with information that isn’t relevant to the decision you’re attempting to make, it will be impossible for you to reach a conclusion.
However, it is still cause for concern when significant information is lost in people’s memories at an exceptionally high rate.
“We always idealize the person who can smash a trivia game, but the point of memory is not being able to remember who won the Stanley Cup in 1972,” Richard explained.
“The point of memory is to make you an intelligent person who can make decisions given the circumstances, and an important aspect in helping you do that is being able to forget some information.”
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