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It’s early Monday morning and you realise you forgot to pick up your dry cleaning, you
can’t find your keys and then you have no idea what your Facebook password is.
As you start to panic, it feels like your memory kind of sucks. But your brain is designed
to forget. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
[BrainCraft intro]
Psychological theories try and make sense of why we forget pieces of information, like
all of our passwords. Decay theory suggests we can’t retrieve information because over
time, traces of our memories fade away and eventually disappear.
Interference theory suggests new memories compete with our existing ones. When new information
is similar to a memory you already have, the new information interferes with your ability
to recall that existing memory.
And in some cases, we didn’t even store a thought as a memory in the first place.
Neuroscientists suggest many of these theories could be intertwined - at a tiny molecular
level in your brain.
We have a “forgetting protein” in our brains called Musashi. It messes with the
function of our synapses, structures that let nerve cells communicate with each other.
Another protein called Adducin, has the opposite effect and actually stimulates the growth
of our synapses.
Remembering and forgetting thoughts is like a street fight between Musashi and Adducin.
Their interaction and who wins depends on whether our thoughts transmitted across our
synapses are stabilized and stored permanently in our memory.
In one study, researchers genetically modified some ringworms - so their brains didn’t contain musashi.
Let’s just call them teenage mutant ninja ringworms. The regular and mutant worms
learned new information just as well, but the mutant worms -- without Musashi -- had
much better recall of information. They were less forgetful.
By removing the “forgetting protein” we learn more about how it works. It could help
us understand disorders where people lose their memories, like Alzheimers, and how to
treat them. But, sadly, we can’t go removing Musashi from our brains to have a super powered
memory. Our brains forget on purpose.
We need to forget because the ability to lose information keeps our brains flexible so they
can absorb new things. If we didn’t forget, we’d constantly recall all kinds of random,
extraneous information and we wouldn’t be able to focus on the present.
Forgetting your passwords is frustrating, but it’s totally normal. As we go about
our daily lives, we subconsciously find a balance between remembering and forgetting.
So a "brain fart" or a “seniors moment” isn't all that bad. Forgetting actually helps
you remember.
If you haven’t already, subscribe to BrainCraft for a new brainy episode every Thursday.
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健忘的好處 (The Upside of Forgetting)

912 分類 收藏
林曉玉 發佈於 2015 年 8 月 31 日
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