Why Forgetting May Make Your Mind More Efficient

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Guest Contributor: Justin Osborne

We all forget, and in most cases, it isn’t really a cause for concern. It is part of life – a natural process, and there are startling statistics to back this up.

According to studies, an average human being forgets around 56 percent of information within just 60 minutes and a whopping 66 percent after 24 hours. Within six days, you may forget 75 percent of the information.

The basic argument behind this is that our brains have limited capacity to be able to store and recall details. Did you, however, know that forgetting can be helpful to your mind? Find out below how forgetting can actually make your mind more efficient.

Why Forgetfulness is a Sign of Brain Efficiency

There are four theories that explain why we forget. Understanding these theories makes it easy for you to see why forgetfulness may indicate that your brain is functioning efficiently. Find out more about the theories below.

1. The Decay Theory

The Decay theory suggests that you develop a memory trace in your brain when a new theory is formed. With time, these memory traces fade and ultimately disappear.

Ideally, it will get lost if you fail to rehearse or retrieve this information. According to research, the human brain actively selects and discards memories left unused for a long time. A fun (and FREE!) recall activity like Memory Joggers can help your loved one living with dementia exercise their retrieval skills.

This process is called Active Forgetting. As you accumulate more memories, the ones that do not get retrieved get lost. From this theory, one can argue that forgetting makes your brain efficient because by losing old memories you get to retain new ones, which may be of much more importance for you at the moment.

2. Storage Failure

When you lose some information, it is not always the case of forgetting. Chances are there; the information just didn’t make it into your long-term memory.

Failure to encode pieces of information may prevent the information from getting into your long-term memory. According to this theory, your brain tends to simplify some memories.

This explains why there are instances when you can only remember faint details about an object and fail to remember most other details. This is an adaptive function of the brain that ensures that you only get to store important information that you may need to remember later.

With this in mind, you really do not need to worry much about only being able to remember some parts of an object. The forgetting, in this case, helps your brain remain efficient by only storing the pieces of information it deems “relevant” or “important.”

3. Interference

It is also possible for you to forget because of interference. The basic explanation behind this is that some of the memories you receive compete and, in the process, interfere with already-existing memories.

This is mostly the case with getting similar pieces of information. Interference, in this case, is divided into two primary classes; proactive interference and retroactive interference.

In proactive interference, the old memory already in your mind makes remembering similar but new memories difficult. Retroactive memory is the exact opposite of proactive memory. In this case, the new information you feed into your brain makes it difficult for you to remember information you had learned before.

Some studies hint that the process of receiving some pieces of information may make you forget. This phenomenon is known as retrieval-induced forgetting. This is mostly the case when your retrieval cues for those pieces of information are very alike.

Studies show that even though this may lead to forgetting, the forgetting of this type may be adaptive. Ideally, when you forget one piece of memory to favor another one, you have minimal chances of struggling with information interference again in the future.

4. Motivated Forgetting

There are also instances when you may actively work to forget some memories. This is more relatable with going through traumatic or painful experiences in life.

You do not want to keep painful memories in your mind for the long term as they may work to your disadvantage by continually evoking anxiety. To avoid this, your best bet would be to try and eliminate these memories from your brain.

There are mechanisms that can help you with motivated forgetting. The approaches, in this case, include suppression and repression.

Forgetting can be Helpful

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The difference in these approaches is that, in suppression forgetting, you forget that information consciously, while repression is done in unconscious form. These forms of motivated forgetting may not make all the painful memories entirely erased from your mind. Still, they can help to at least suppress painful emotions attached to the experiences, so you find living with such memories easier.

Final Word: When Should I be Concerned about Forgetfulness?

Even though forgetfulness may be a good indicator that your brain is working efficiently, there are instances when you should be concerned about memory loss. For example, you may need to be concerned about forgetting if it becomes severe or comes with alcohol drinking, depression, lack of good sleep, stress, and medication. In these cases, talking with your doctor or a therapist may help.

Justin Osborne

Justin Osborne on Memory Cafe Directory

Justin Osborne

Justin Osborne is a writer at bestessays.com. He loves to share his thoughts and opinions about education, writing, and blogging with other people on different blogs and forums.

Currently, he is working as a content marketer at an essay writing service.





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