How being forgetful can help you make better decisions

For a long time it has been thought that good memory was a sign of intelligence. But new research from scientists has shown that forgetting things is your brain’s way helping you make smarter decisions.


The research from the University of Toronto found out that our brains spend just as much energy trying to remember things as they do trying to forget them. Storing information is known as persistence whilst forgetting information is known as transience, and researchers are beginning to understand that forgetting things is not a failure of recalling information - but rather an important part decision making and intelligence.


“The real goal of memory is to optimize decision-making,” says Professor Blake Richard, author of the study. “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.”


This is because our brains try and actively ditch information that it feels is not of value to our future survival and is linked to our evolutionary mechanisms. So not remembering that guy’s name you used to go to school with isn’t as useful as say, remembering not to touch an open flame at a barbecue. Unless of course you forget that you’re already drunk.

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