Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Forgetting Has Its Benefits

Forgetting Has Its Benefits - WSJ.com: "There's an old saying that inside every 70-year-old is a 35-year-old wondering, 'What happened?'

What happened is that countless days, nights, meetings, commutes and other unremarkable events went by, well, unremarked. They didn't make a lasting impression on the brain or they were overwritten by so many similar experiences that they are hard to retrieve. In short, they've been forgotten.

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Neuroscientists say forgetting is crucial to the efficient functioning of the mind, to learning, adapting and recalling more significant things.

'We focus so much on memory that forgetting has been maligned,' says Gayatri Devi, a neuro-psychiatrist and memory expert in New York City. 'But if you didn't forget, you'd recall all kinds of extraneous information from your life that would drown you in a sea of inefficiency.'"