Forgetting is more important than remembering

How losing memories can benefit us

From misremembering the names of our acquaintances, to failing to recall a memory accurately, for decades we have viewed forgetfulness as a shortcoming of the human mind. Yet recent neuroscience and psychology demonstrates this to be a myth, argues Scott A. Small. From creativity to intelligence and empathy to courage, the art of forgetting may be more vital to the human condition than remembering.

 

It used to be thought that forgetting anything — from minor things like the name of a casual acquaintance, to the more painful loss of cherished memories experienced by my Alzheimer’s Disease patients — was caused, to varying degrees, by a failure of the brain’s memory mechanisms. But new developments in neuroscience over the past decade show that this idea is deeply flawed.

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