Using the example of a hotel and people on the street, a neuroscientist explained why forgetfulness is actually useful

Anna BoklajukNews
Being forgetful is actually useful. Source: freepik.com

Charan Ranganath, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and a neuroscientist who has spent the last 30 years researching the brain processes that underlie our ability to recall, remember, and forget, argues that imperfect memory and false memories are elements of a flexible mind. Memories are formed by changes in the strength of connections between neurons. That is, some of these connections will not be optimal, while others will be stronger and more effective.

"I'm staying in a hotel right now, and it just wouldn't make sense for me to remember that room number in two weeks. Think of all the people you pass on the street in the same way. Do you really need to memorize all their faces?" the BBC quoted the neuroscientist as saying.

According to the neuroscientist, if we did not forget anything, we would accumulate memories, and then we would never be able to find what we need in our memory because it would be overwhelmed. It's like the principle of accumulating things at home: if you don't throw away the old stuff and keep buying new stuff, you won't be able to find what you need very quickly.

The neuroscientist also believes that most of our assumptions about memory are wrong. And the shortcomings we notice often arise from the most useful functions and create cognitive flexibility that is important for our survival. That's why we memorize best after we've made a mistake. That is the method of active learning: walking the streets, not just looking up a route on Google, or performing in a play, not re-reading a script.

Using the example of a hotel and people on the street, a neuroscientist explained why forgetfulness is actually useful

The principle of error-based learning is that when you try to remember something, your memories will always be somewhat imperfect. And so, as the brain tries to find those memories and you compare them to real information, this process can weaken the bad connections and strengthen the good ones. That is, the best way to learn something is to practice it constantly, because only through action can you identify weaknesses and give your brain a chance to optimize those memories.

Three principles to improve memory quality


Our memories compete with each other, so the more you can distinguish something, the better. Vivid memories associated with unique sights, sounds, and sensations are the ones that will stick. Therefore, focusing on sensory details really helps us to remember better.

Encouraging better organization

That is, to make memories more meaningful. In his new book, Why We Remember, Charan Ranganath suggests using the "memory palace" method, which involves linking the information you want to learn to the information you already have.

Create cues for memory

Memory retrieval is very time-consuming and error-prone, so it's much more efficient if memories just pop into our heads. And creating signals can help this happen. For example, with the help of music: songs can naturally evoke memories of certain periods of your life. Each person can create their signals and other daily tips.

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