The inability to remember has long been considered a failure of the brain, but a new study has found that our brains are actively working to forget memories in order to retain the truly important information.
In fact, the study’s researchers believe the brain is not designed to keep memories intact, but its actual purpose is to only hold onto valuable information to optimize intelligent decision making overtime.
"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," says Blake Richards, author of the study and associate fellow in the Learning in Machines and Brains program.
The new University of Toronto paper was published Wednesday in the Neuron journal. Paul Frankland, a senior fellow at CIFAR's Child & Brain Development program, who was also involved in the study, says,"We find plenty of evidence from recent research that there are mechanisms that promote memory loss, and that these are distinct from those involved in storing information."