Being Forgetful Is A Sign Your Brain Is Working Properly, Says Science

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 

Forgetful people are the smartest. Yay, parents!

Parents rejoice! A new study shows that being forgetful may be a sign of your brain is actually working properly. It came from researchers and a University and shit, so we know it’s true and no one can ever take it back.

According to the University of Canada, remembering only certain details may actually be a sign your brain is better at separating the really important information from the…what’s the word I’m looking for? I had it a minute ago.


Basically, if we can remember the important stuff, we are good to go.

Their research, published in the Journal Neuron found that the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus (the part of our brain associated with memory) actually seems to promote forgetting. The purpose was to make room for more important information, and do away with more useless things.

“We always idealize 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,” said Professor Blake Richards from the University of Toronto, lead author on the study.

This is good news, parents. Am I right? Please tell me I am not the only parent who had a child then completely lost all ability to remember their individual names when they are all in the same room together.

Years ago, I actually called to make my son’s six month well-check and when the receptionist answered the phone she said, “Date of birth?” I froze. “Hello?” she said. “Yeah, I’m here. It’s just that… I can’t quite remember.” The poor woman tried to help me by suggesting we just start with the month. “Ummmm, it was warm out,” I stammered. “July?”

I believe it was at that point she knew the situation was dire. “Let’s just get his last name, dear.” I could hear the clicks on her keyboard, and then she said dryly, “September.”

“SEPTEMBER 7th! MY SON WAS BORN ON SEPTEMBER 7th,” I screamed into the receiver. Then, “please don’t ever tell anyone this happened.”

University researchers in this most recent study backed up 2007 claims that forgetfulness is a “highly evolved” form of intelligence. Their research suggested people were better at remembering conflicting information, rather than repeat or easy information, and those were found to be of higher intelligence.

“The point of memory is to make you an intelligent person who can make decisions given the circumstances, and an important aspect in helping you do that is being able to forget some information,” Richards explained.

We should probably mention this most recent study came to this conclusion by reviewing data from previous studies and did not offer any net new experimental data but whatever they remembered shit from all the other ones so it’s fine.

Researchers found there are several benefits of our forgetfulness. For one, the brain wants to get rid of old useless information, like an old boyfriend’s phone number. Apparently, people in our lives are constantly bringing up old bits of information we no longer have use for and when they do, it’s harder to make a concrete decision. When we choose to forget those details, we become a smarter, more tuned-in society.

So next time you forget where you put your keys or the password to your Netflix account, your brain “might just be waiting for more useful information.”

Score one for parents everywhere.

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