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“Fleeting” memory is not a problem: why it is useful to forget information

Date: June 18, 2024 Time: 09:45:55

The brain’s “working memory” is overloaded with events

Photo: Shutterstock

Forgetting some things and remembering not everything can be useful. Neuroscientists at Trinity College Dublin decided to observe the phenomenon of “forgetting” as part of the learning process.

Neuroscientists have suggested that our ability to recall and remember certain events depends on feedback from the outside world and the predictability of the environment. And that forgetfulness may not be a mistake, but a feature of the brain, which allows you to build a dynamic interaction with a changing external environment.

If our previous experience is no longer adequate to the changed environment, then it is good that we have forgotten what it was like before. This allows us not to cling to the past, but to continue developing in the present. So forgetting can be a positive change that will make us feel better.


To test the hypothesis, the team studied a form of forgetting in which different events occurring close in time can cause newly formed memories to be forgotten. That is, the “working memory” of the brain is overloaded with events, they compete in importance, and some of them are forgotten.

We decided to test laboratory mice. First, they had an association with a certain object in the context of the action and in a certain room. The mice were then asked to recognize or, one might say, “remember” this object under new conditions. The mice would forget their favorite figure if the most recent experiences of the competition were allowed to “interfere” with the first memory. That is, the new object in the new situation was more important to the mice than the old one, even though quite some time had passed.


The team led by Dr. Thomas Ryan, associate professor in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology and the Institute of Neurology at Trinity College Dublin, has also identified the region of the brain where memories are stored. These are sets of neurons called “engram cells”, and successful memory retrieval requires the reactivation of these sets of neurons.

The continuous flow of changes in the environment leads to the encoding of many of these engrams that compete with each other and defeat the memories that are most important to us in the here and now.

– Therefore, while some memories may remain intact, others will be affected by the new information that arrives and prevails. However, disturbed memories can still be reactivated by environmental cues, new experiences and lead to new behaviours, says Dr Livia Autore, a PhD student at the Irish Research Council (IRC).

It turns out that “natural forgetting”, on the one hand, allows us to learn new actions and behaviors more appropriate to the changed situation, and on the other hand, it is reversible under certain circumstances. Therefore, understanding the mechanism of this process may be important in the treatment of disease states, for example, in people living with Alzheimer’s disease, when everyday forgetting processes may be mistakenly activated due to brain disease.


When remembering something for a long time, our emotions and how often we “stumble upon” a remembered object play an important role.

The results of a series of studies show that emotions play an important role in several specific stages of memorization and memory formation, as well as during recall. For example, cognitive psychologist Donald McKay and a team of researchers conducted a test that asked them to recall a series of words printed in a particular color. And then they were asked to remember the color, and then the word itself. It turned out that strong or taboo words, forbidden by the culture, were remembered much better than neutral words.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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