Since our first day of Kindergarten, it's pretty much drilled into our heads that remembering things is practically the most important thing ever and people who don't remember things are not intelligent. Even after you're done with school, society places a huge weight on remembering things. If a husband forgets his anniversary, he's in big trouble. If a parent were to forget their child's birthday, it would be like a crime.
But scientists at the University of California Santa Cruz are asking us to change the way we look at our memory -- or more specifically, the benefits of forgetting things.
A paper recently published in Psychological Science purported that forgetting facts frees up space in our brain, essentially letting us re-allocate cognitive resources away from old, irrelevant information and to focus instead on remembering new, more relevant facts and information. The advantage of this is that it allows us to free our brains up to be more responsive to our environment in real time.
How do we make room for new information without the negative consequences of forgetting important information? Technology, of course. Obviously a lot of people have been relying on technology to remember things that they no longer do -- like phone numbers and birthdays for example. The authors of this study wanted to take a deeper look at this seemingly intuitive phenomenon, and how our confidence in the "saving" process facilitates our ability to create new memories.
Their study found that that "off-loading memory onto the environment in order to reduce the extent to which currently unneeded to-be-remembered information interferes with the learning and remembering of other information." But only if we trust the place we are storing our information.
How do you feel that technology has changed how you prioritize what you remember? What are some things you are glad you don't have to fill your brain with anymore? Share some examples in the comments section below.
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Saving old information can boost memory for new information (via Eureka Alert)
"The simple act of saving something, such as a file on a computer, may improve our memory for the information we encounter next, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The research suggests that the act of saving helps to free up cognitive resources that can be used to remember new information."