Scientists say our brain works better when we forget things more often
Did you forget where you parked your car last night? Have you waited for your pizza to be ready, only to find that the oven wasn't even on in the first place? Have you ever felt embarrassed seeing someone you've definitely met before, but can't remember their name?
If this is the case, you're probably the first to admit that you have a bad memory. While it may be embarrassing at times, several studies now show that it's actually nothing to be ashamed of. After reading the findings, you might even start feeling proud of your bad memory!
Professor Blake Richards from the University of Toronto published an eye-opening paper in Neuron looking into how memory functions optimize decision-making processes in the real world. According to his review study of several works, forgetting has got nothing to do with lower intelligence or clumsiness. In fact, we need to forget trivial things to take on board more important information. Instead of perceiving information as "facts" per se, the brain creates a general picture of certain events and simplifies relevant information for future use.
However, it's often the case that trivial information starts taking up too much space in the brain and wastes energy. Eventually, this triggers a sort of insufficient memory warning, prompting the brain to forget what it perceives as "bad memory."
There is support for Professor Richards’ point of view. When a reporter interviewed Albert Einstein, he was shocked to see the renowned scientist did not remember his own phone number. Unperturbed, Einstein famously said, "Never memorize something that you can look up."
While you may have forgotten where you left your keys, your brain now has more space to store information for real world decision-making. That's why it's important to clean up your memory regularly to boost your brain's performance.
How can we clean up and optimize our memory?
One way is to go to the gym or do other types of physical activity on a regular basis. "We know that exercise increases the number of neurons in the hippocampus," Richards explained.
Increasing the number of neurons in your brain will clear out any trivial parts of memories, while storing and reclassifying important information at the same time. Clever stuff!
As well as doing physical exercise, you can improve how well your brain functions by eating certain types of food. These include whole grain foods, fish oils, blueberries, tomatoes, foods containing vitamin B, walnuts, avocados, dark chocolate, broccoli, and curry.
There you go — being forgetful is not so bad after all! Unless you experience sudden memory loss or you start forgetting things more often than usual, you can now sit back and simply enjoy the art of remembering and forgetting. You might want to share this article with family members and friends who have a bad memory. ;-)