We all forget things. Our brains are incredible. They are designed to store memories, of course, but they also help us forget.
Every night, while we’re sleeping, our brains reset. Important memories are stored, and some unimportant things are let go.
New Research About Forgetting
Until recently, most people believed forgetting served no real purpose. But new research tells us that it’s actually good for us.
Healthy forgetting and healthy memory both contribute to our emotional well-being, our creative abilities, and our ability to function in a variety of different situations.
I recently read an extremely interesting book on this subject. It’s called “Forgetting: The Benefits of Not Remembering.” Author Scott Small is a physician specializing in aging and dementia. He’s the director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Columbia University.
In this book, Dr. Small does a masterful job of explaining some complex brain operations. Plus, he shares lots of insightful stories about real people. I especially enjoyed his story about Karl, a man who became worried when he started having trouble remembering names of some people he’d met. Dr. Small guides Karl and his readers through the process of determining whether or not Karl’s forgetting was a normal part of aging.
I love the perspective the book provides. After reading it, the next time you can’t remember where you left your keys, you may recall that a little forgetting actually does a lot of good.
The Future of Alzheimer’s Research
Near the end of the book, Dr. Small also offers a hopeful take on the state of Alzheimer’s research. He shares a brief history of Alzheimer’s research, explaining why we got a late jump on studying the disease. He writes:
Believe me, the field is moving as fast as it can. There’s no better way, perhaps, to end a book on normal forgetting than with a hopeful new beginning for pathological late-life forgetting. Stay tuned.
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