Most people associate good memory with intelligence. After all, being able to recall facts at a moment’s notice is pretty impressive, especially when you’re in school. And with that, the opposite can be said for forgetful people. Most of the time, when we fail to remember someone’s name, or forget why we went to the kitchen in the first place, we feel dumb.
But you shouldn’t feel this way. It’s completely natural to forget. In fact, it might even mean that you’re actually an intelligent person!
A study published in the Neuron Journal states that forgetting is actually the brain’s way of making you smarter at the end of a long day.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto have debunked the correlation of perfect memory and high intelligence, stating that just because you remember a lot of things, does not necessarily mean that you are a smart person. They even go so far as to say forgetting things might actually make you smarter. The truth of the matter is, the more you retain information in your brain, the longer it takes for you to focus on the detail that you specifically need at any point of the day.
Our brains are amazing things, able to store vast amounts of information. But what makes it even more of an awe-inspiring object is that it is able to filter out useless information in your hippocampus (the part where memories are stored). Once your storage is cleared of unwanted data, it becomes much easier for you to access the important facts, letting you make decisions faster with the correct data to base the decision from.
Just like a USB, our brain deletes old and useless data to make room for newer, more important ones. Albeit it has a storage capacity a thousand times larger than your generic USB. The brain also knows how to distinguish worthless data from crucial ones so that it doesn’t accidentally delete a key memory.
In this day and age, it’s becoming less necessary to keep remembering anything. Oftentimes we rely on our phones to remind us of events, or the internet to help us remember the meaning of a certain term that’s been presented to us. Because of this, our brains have adapted accordingly. It has begun to weed out data that could easily be accessed through our various technological tools. For example, in the old times, to truly become a master of medicine you had to memorize every herb and its applications for different ailments.
Nowadays, you can just access the internet for details on the particular medicine that you want or for any treatments for the ailments that you are currently having. And due to this, our brains have begun to filter out those huge memories in order to clear paths so that we can think faster, without those large chunks of random facts clogging our thought process.
So while it’s not good to forget everything, it’s okay to not recall every single detail in your life. After all, it’s just your brain’s way of cleaning your thought highway, allowing for faster and more critical thought.