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Forgetting Unimportant Stuff Could Actually Be a Sign of Intelligence

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Mar. 18 2019, Updated 9:09 a.m. ET

We're all forgetful every now and then, and while others may tell you it's a sign of lack of intelligence, being forgetful may actually be a good sign. A recent study conducted by the University of Toronto found that being forgetful may well be a sign of intelligence

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Professor Blake Richland explained that forgetting things is an important tool:

"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."
"We know that exercise increases the number of neurons in the hippocampus, but they’re exactly those details from your life that don’t actually matter, and that may be keeping you from making good decisions."
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Professor Richards and Paul Frankland found that memory is utilised by the brain to optimise decision making, and it does so by retaining valuable information and forgetting unimportant stuff to make room for more important knowledge. 

They believe that as a result, forgetfulness is possibly a positive. They believe that when your brain forgets specific details about a past event, but still remembers the larger picture, it is doing so to generalise previous experiences better, rather than remembering every little detail. 

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"One of the things that distinguishes an environment where you're going to want to remember stuff versus an environment where you want to forget stuff is this question of how consistent the environment is and how likely things are to come back into your life."
"We always idealise the person who can smash a trivia game, but the point of memory is not being able to remember who won the Stanley Cup in 1972." 

Richards adds that the best thing to memorise events isn't to memorise absolutely everything, because it will be impossible to do so if your brain is constantly being bombarded with useless information.

So all you forgetful people out there don't panic. You brain just doesn't have time to memorize the useless stuff cause it's too busy worrying about the important things. 

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