Write your abstract here. The Importance of Being Forgetful.
landmark study is the first ever to record visual images of the human
brain as it actively suppresses distracting memories. These findings
reveal why remembering details isn’t necessarily a good thing. Dr. Anthony Wagner, senior author of the study conducted at Stanford
University, points out that people often have a difficult time
remembering new passwords, because our brains get distracted by all of
the other past and present passwords rattling around in our heads. Dr.
Wagner says that if the brain can block out the distractions, or
essentially forget the unnecessary digits or words, the easier it is to
remember the new ones. Michael
Anderson, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of
Oregon who is familiar with the study, points out that according to
this type of research, an ideal memory improvement program “would
include a course on how to impair your memory. Your head is full of a
surprising number of things that you don’t need to know.” It seems counter-intuitive, but being good at “forgetting” is what
allows some people to have a great memory. During the study, the more
efficient participants were at forgetting irrelevant data, the more
accurate their memory became in terms of energy expended. The study utilized a word-memorization test to demonstrate that the
brain chooses to remember memories it thinks are most relevant, while
it actively suppresses similar, but less used information. This process
seems to lighten the cognitive load and helps prevent confusion. "Whenever you’re engaging in remembering, the brain adapts. It’s
constantly re-weighting memories," says team-member Brice Kuhl, "In
this simple test, we see it reverse memory to weaken competing
memories. This is something that probably happens a lot in the real
world." In essence, the brain could not work quickly and efficiently if it
did not have the capacity to forget what it determines as irrelevant.
The human brain doesn’t like to be cluttered with what it deems
unnecessary information. That may be why many of us can’t remember most
of what we learned in college algebra. What the study wasn’t able to explain however, is why our brains
think remembering lines from Shaun of the Dead is more important than
recalling where we left the car keys…Galaxy News Reported June 6th, 2007.