Why Forgetting Is Good For Your Memory

Forgetting could help you remember.


That's the conclusion of new research from the University of Illinois at Chicago. We wouldn't be able to learn new information if we didn't forget some things, researchers said.

"Memory is difficult. Thinking is difficult," study researcher Ben Storm said in a statement. Memories "could completely overrun our life and make it impossible to learn and retrieve new things if they were left alone, and could just overpower the rest of memory."

In the study, Storm and his colleagues gave people a word list, where the words all had a relation to each other (example: a list of birds). Then, they had to remember half of the birds that were on the list.

By doing this, Storm said, "that’s going to make you forget the other half of the birds in that list." So in this case, forgetting the other half of the words on the list is a good thing.

In addition, people who are able to forget unnecessary information also seem to be good at problem solving and remembering important things (even when they're distracted), he said.

"We need to be able to update our memory so we can remember and think about the things that are currently relevant," Storm said in a statement.

Storm's study was published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

Even though forgetting things seems to serve a purpose, brain freezes can still be an annoying disturbance in everyday life. Here are 5 tips from HuffPost blogger and clinical psychologist Cynthia R. Green, Ph.D. on 5 steps to cure brain freeze.

Brain Freeze? A 5-Step Cure for Daily Forgetfulness