Forgetfulness as a strategy for intelligent decision-making

If you are a fan of action movies, the ones starring Matt Damon (Jason Bourne) are probably some of your favorites.  Have you ever wondered how is it possible for him to speak so many languages, defend himself in fierce battles, and withstand every possible situation without even knowing his true identity?  Turns out that erasing irrelevant or unimportant data from the brain might be a good strategy, helping to learn new things and making better, more intelligent decisions.

Researchers at a Toronto University examined the facts about this whole thing- the way smart individuals tend to forget tiny and less-important things- and found that in order to learn new things and make better decisions, our brains have to remove old information.

As reported by The Independent, Blake Richards, study co-author, emphasized that it is “important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world.”

Richards goes on to explains that when a person is trying to just live their lives and the brain is bringing up different conflicting memories all the time, that makes it more difficult for you to make an intelligent and an informed decision.

If you have ever wondered why you can remember all the words to a certain song, but not your aunt`s or nephew`s birthdays, Richards said what “distinguishes an environment where you’re going to want to remember stuff versus an environment where you want to forget stuff is this question of how consistent the environment is and how likely things are to come back into your life.”

In other words, it could be that you wanted to remember the lyrics of that song because it is simply your favorite, but you may hang out with you family members once or twice annually.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The study focused on memory and concluded that the ability to erase certain memories is critical to intelligent decision-making processes. The goal of memory, according to this study, is to optimize decisions-making.  As such, transience (forgetting) is as important as persistence (remembering).  This is why Bourne knows what he needs to do in order to survive and seek revenge but cannot recall his origin.

Source:

https://www.maxim.com/news/forget-things-smarter-science-2017-6

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/forgetful-helps-make-smarter-decisions-study-scientists-memory-learning-a7801371.html

Note:

Previously, we published an article named “Neuroscientists say your forgetfulness is a sign of extraordinary intelligence,” which suggested that forgetting things like names, important dates, or important birthdays is not something you should be worried about but be proud of instead.  Specifically, it suggested that forgetfulness is a sign of higher intelligence.  This was not a correct description of the study in question, though.  What the study suggested is that in order to make intelligent decisions it seems wise to erase old and irrelevant information from our memory.

This was flagged as incorrect and we are thankful for it, so that we can fix it properly.  We apologize to our readers for the misinformation provided earlier.

Sources:

https://www.maxim.com/news/forget-things-smarter-science-2017-6
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/forgetful-helps-make-smarter-decisions-study-scientists-memory-learning-a7801371.html