NPR

Could The Best Memory System Be One That Forgets?

Forget thinking about forgetting as failure. Researchers now say that ridding our brains of irrelevant details and outdated information helps us better navigate our ever-changing world.
Our brains can store huge amounts of information, but forgetting some of that information may actually make us smarter. / Jedrzej Kaminski / EyeEm / Getty Images

Intuitively, we tend to think of forgetting as failure, as something gone wrong in our ability to remember.

Now, Canadian neuroscientists with the University of Toronto are challenging that notion. In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Neuron, they review the current research into the neurobiology of forgetting and hypothesize that our brains purposefully work to forget information in order to help us live our lives.

I spoke with Blake Richards, one of the co-authors of the paper, who applies artificial intelligence theories to his study of how the brain

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