Having a fast or accurate memory recall is certainly something that comes in handy at school when you’re doing something like learning multiplication tables. It can also be useful in the workplace when you’re trying to remember someone’s name.
With that said, forgetting names or fun facts happens to the best of us. However, when it happens, it’s not unusual to feel slightly dumb for having had a brain lapse.
After all, there is nothing worse than going to the grocery store and forgetting the most important thing you went in for in the first place.
If, like the rest of us, you wonder why you sometimes forget seemingly easy things, the answer is that there is probably nothing wrong at all.
In fact, a study done by the Neuron Journal 30365-3) suggests that forgetting is actually a natural brain process that might actually even make you smarter at the end of the day.
A study by professors at the University of Toronto found that having a perfect memory might have nothing to do with your intelligence.
In fact, forgetting the occasional detail might even make you smarter.
Traditionally speaking, the person who remembers the most things is seen to be the smartest.
The study, however, found that forgetting the occasional detail is normal. In fact, remembering the big picture as opposed to little details is better for your brain and your safety, in the long run.
You see, our brains are actually a lot smarter than we think. Our brains are so smart that the hippocampus (where memories are stored) weeds out the most important details.
As CNN put it, this helps us to “optimize intelligent decision making by holding onto what’s important and letting go of what’s not.”
This theory makes sense when you think about how it’s more important to remember someone’s face than name.
Both might be ideal for social purposes, but if we were in the animal kingdom, remembering someone or something’s face as being a threat will keep us alive, as opposed to remembering their name.
The brain doesn’t just decide what is and important to remember, it actually retains new memories and overwrites old ones.
When a brain is too crowded with memories, they are more likely to conflict and interfere with efficient decision making.
Retaining “big picture” memories is becoming less and less important for us humans with improvements in technology and our access to information.
It’s more useful for us evolutionarily to know how to Google the spelling of a word, or how to install a shower head than it is for us to remember exactly how to do it.
By no means should anyone be forgetting everything, but it’s perfectly OK and healthy to overlook or forget a minor detail once in a while.
So the next time you forget something, just remember that it’s just your brain doing its job.