There is a study that says being forgetful isn’t a sign of stupidity on the contrary it helps make smarter decisions. Forgetfulness is a highly evolved form of intelligence.
Usually, we consider people who can remember anything from multiplication tables to their relatives’ or friends’ birthdays are certainly someone who is smart.
Albert Einstein, one of the well-known scientists of all time is tagged as the ‘absent-minded professor.’ This is a stereotype that dates back to Ancient Greece with the philosopher Thales of Miletus who reportedly focused on surveying the night sky that he fell down a well. Even one of the world’s greatest minds, Albert Einstein, was considered an example of forgetfulness’.
This combination of intelligence and forgetfulness has long puzzled neuroscientists. This bad memory was seen as a failure of the brain’s mechanism for storing and retrieving information.
However, based on a review of research into the subject, forgetting is actually a key part of learning. A study done by the Neuron Journal suggests that forgetting is actually a natural brain process that might actually even make you smarter at the end of the day. In addition, it shows that people who are forgetful might actually be smarter than their friends with better memories.
The authors of the paper, Professors Blake Richards and Paul Frankland, of Toronto University, said: “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.”
The goal of memory is not to transmit the most accurate information over time, rather to optimize intelligent decision-making by holding onto what’s important and letting go of what’s not.
“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.”
The information discarded depends on the situation.
“One of the things that distinguishes 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,” Professor Richards said.
Quick remembering is also useful when you go to store; especially when you forget to buy the thing you want to buy in the first place. In some cases, it can also be useful in the workplace when you’re trying to remember someone’s name. Do you ever fail to remember your new coworker’s name?
It’s quit forget true that forgetting names or fun facts happens to the best of us. However, when it happens, it’s not unusual to feel a little dumb for having a brain lapse. If it happens often, you might start to think that something’s not quite right. Don’t worry because there is probably nothing wrong at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
In addition, it is also said that having a perfect memory or how much someone can remember might have nothing to do with your intelligence.
In reality, forgetting the occasional detail might even make you smarter. Though traditionally speaking, the person who remembers the most things is seen to be the smartest. But according to reports remembering every single detail isn’t what makes us smart.
The study, however, found that forgetting the occasional detail is normal. As a matter of fact, remembering the big picture as opposed to little details is better for your brain and your safety, in the long run. It’s about keeping what’s important front and center, while letting go of the rest.
This theory might be easier to understand if we look at the example of someone who remembers a person’s face but not their name.
Indeed, it might be embarrassing, but if you look at it from another angle, it could actually be better.
Imagine we’re in the animal kingdom and you’re a lion in the Savannah; a lion who has to keep an eye out on your environment to survive. Knowing what’s a threat and what’s harmless is more important than remembering what everything in your environment is called.
But the cleverness of the forgetful brain doesn’t end there. The brain doesn’t just decide what is important to remember; it also helps us sort out old memories that we no longer need, so we have room to add new, more important ones.
When a brain is too crowded with memories, they are more prone to conflict and mess about with efficient decision-making.
The main purpose of our ‘memory’ is not to remember facts, but to help making intelligent decisions by retaining only valuable information.
Therefore, the brain is not malfunctioning when it forgets something, it may have been actively trying to ditch the memory so it can focus on something more important or create a picture that is easier to understand.
Although it’s better to remember every detail and also keep a grasp on the big picture, fewer and fewer people are able to do it.
Retaining “big picture” memories is becoming less and less important for us humans with improvements in technology and our access to information. Particularly, in today’s computer era society, Richards says, our brains no longer need to store information like phone numbers and facts easily found on Google. It’s more useful for us evolutionarily to know how to Google the spelling of a word. When the answer to almost everything question is just a click away.
“Instead of storing this irrelevant information that our phones can store for us, our brains are freed up to store the memories that actually do matter for us,” Richards says.
On the other hand, this study doesn’t mean you should forget everything all the time. By no means should anyone be forgetting everything, but it’s perfectly OK and healthy to overlook or forget a minor detail once in a while. Therefore, the next time you forget something; just remember that it’s just your brain doing its job.