If you often find yourself forgetting that you made plans with a friend or why you needed to go to the shops, then don’t be too hard on yourself – you might be smarter than you think.
New research by the University of Toronto found that being forgetful could actually be a sign of greater intelligence.
The findings suggest that your memory optimises decision making by only remembering valuable information and forgetting the unimportant details – essentially making room for what matters
For example, if the brain forgets smaller details about a past event but can still remember the larger picture, this allows us to generalise previous experiences better, as opposed to remembering every intricate detail of the event, reports The Independent.
Professor Blake Richards, one of the publishers of the study, explained: “It’s important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that’s going to help make decisions in the real world.”
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Which information gets lost depends on the situation and environment. For example, someone who works in a big department store wouldn’t remember all the different customers they see every day, whereas someone who worked in a smaller boutique might remember the regulars.
Essentially, forgetting details every now and again is a sign of a healthy memory that works how it’s supposed to.
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According to Richards, the best technique for storing memories is to not memorise absolutely everything. If you’re trying to make a decision, it will be impossible to do so if your brain is constantly being bombarded with useless information.
The study highlights that if people forget important things at an alarming frequency, then this is a cause for concern.
This post originally appeared in Harper’s BAZAAR UK