Do you remember that friend from your class who was able to memorize everything, the one who did all the tests with maximum points because he/she had incredible memory? Did you also consider this kid smarter than you?
Science has proven quite the contrary!
Firstly, good memory is not associated with high IQ level.
Secondly, the brain is “programmed” to remember certain things and forget others.
Last but not least, forgetting is the central part of intelligence.
Both forgetting and remembering have the same importance.
Paul Frankland, who is a part of CIFAR’s Child and Brain Development program and Blake Richards, a companion partner in the Learning in Machines and brains program, claim that our brains actively work in order to forget.
These two researchers studied the topic of remembering, also known as persistence and made a research on forgetting – known as transience. In their paper, which was published in the journal Neuron, they concluded that both components – forgetting and remembering are very important for our memory system.
Actually, the researchers suggest that the aim of memory is not to hold the most accurate information over time, but instead, to guide and make better intelligent decision making by only retaining relevant information.
As Blake Richards puts it: “The real purpose of memory is to improve decision-making.”
According to him, it is crucial for the brain to forget unimportant details and instead concentrate on the things that are about to help him make decisions later in the real world.
For instance, if you remember only part of a conversation or social encounter instead of remembering every single detail, it implies that your brain doesn’t remember irrelevant things but creates memories which are about to help you in decision making and predicting the future later on in your life.
Focusing on the process of forgetting things
Previously in the text we mentioned two notions: persistence (cellular system concerned with sorting information) and transience (cellular system involved in forgetting). So in the past neurobiological researchers had the tendency to focus more on persistence and much less on transience.
Until now, it was believed that if a person is unable to remember something, then he/she has a problem with the mechanisms involved in storing or recalling information known as persistence.
New research discovers that there is a good reason why our brains actively work on forgetting certain information. Actually, these mechanisms that promote memory loss are a sign of high IQ and enable people to remember only the most important things which are crucial for decision-making and general sense of orientation in their lives.