Your Forgetfulness Points at Your Intelligence

Do you forget things more often than other people? You often find yourself in a situation when you cannot remember a right word, a name or some fact? Do not worry! It is not a sign of any disease. It is a sign of your intelligence!

Image Credit: Ion Chiosea /

When we cannot remember anything we feel awkward and even ashamed thinking that we are not clever enough in comparison with other people who have a good memory. But the scientists from Toronto found out that we actually should be proud of our forgetfulness, because it shows that your brain works better.

Neurophysiologists from the University of Toronto have stated that forgetfulness is an important ability that allows a person to “remove” unnecessary information from the brain and replenish it with new relevant knowledge to optimize decision-making, which is the main function of our memory.

Professor Blake Richars proves it stating that our brain has to get rid of any unnecessary information to make fast and effective decisions, otherwise the brain would be overloaded and it would significantly slow down its capacity.

The research

The scientists from Toronto University have taken a challenge to find out why we cannot clearly remember our childhood. Becoming adults we remember almost nothing that happened to us before we were four years old. The scientists wanted to study this phenomenon that Sigmund Freud called “Childhood amnesia”.

The results

Our memories are “stored” in the connections between the neurons in hippocampus (the area of a brain that corresponds to memory). The scientists found out that forgetfulness is associated with the appearance of new neurons that are generated by stem cells in the hippocampus. After the new neurons are integrated in hippocampus their new connections rebuild the schemes of hippocampus and rerecord memories. The information kept in old connections is not relevant anymore and it gradually vanishes.

It explains why we do not remember many things from our childhood. As children know very little about the world, they get a lot of new information every day and thus, their hippocampus produces more new neurons and their connections. The new neurons replace the old ones and the information that is not important fades from our memory.

Forgetful and genius

Norman Wiener an American mathematician and philosopher, a founder of cybernetics, once forgot his own address. His family moved from their old house, and when the scientist wanted to come back home in the evening he understood that he didn’t remember where his new house was. He came to his old house where his daughter met him. His wife had sent the girl there; because she was sure her genius husband would forget the address.

  • Charlie Chaplin, an English comic actor, filmmaker and composer, could not remember the name of his secretary with whom he had been working for 7 years.
  • Albert Camus, a French philosopher and writer, almost left his newborn babies in the hospital. He simply forgot where and why he had come.
  • Isaac Newton was also well-known for his forgetfulness. There is a story that one day, when he invited his friends to his place, he went to the study for some wine but having forgotten about his friends and a bottle of wine, he sat down and started to work.

Forgetfulness is not a defect. The history knows many examples of people who were highly forgetful and at the same time genius. You do not have to scold yourself because you cannot remember some things. As the scientists found out, it is a sign of your intelligence, and who knows, maybe the next generation will also mention your name in the list of the most intelligent and the most forgetful people in the world.

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