Minding the mind! Why you people forget things with time

Memory, in general, works at a selective level.

The human brain is considered to be the most developed compared to any other species yet it works in mysterious ways. Sigmund Freud had said the formation of a concealing memory depends on the forgetting of other important impressions. Hence forgetting plays a crucial role in the formation of memories that are relevant.

Memory at a general level works at a selective level. It doesn’t remember all the information in a selective way. This way we store certain things in our memory while discarding others. On the other hand, there are times when we can’t memorize just as well and forget them easily that is because the entire remembering process is selective.

Here are a few possible reasons why we end up forgetting certain things

Decay theory: Memory that is unattended is lost

This theory suggests that over time memory traces begin to fade if not retrieved or rehearsed. It suggests that the brain discards memories that are unused like that mathematical equation you learned in school but never really applied in real life.

Interference: When memories of the same kind compete for prominence

When two pieces of information, one received at present and one from the past are similar, one competes with another for prominence. Sometimes trying to remember something, and lead to other things being forgotten. This can also be adaptive as the brain is trying to forget one memory in the favour of another to reduce the chance of interference in the future.

Failure to store: Leavening out details to make space for the crux of the matter

Sometimes you forget details because it never made it into long-term memory in the first place. Memories tend to get simplified by default. While you remember the crux of the matter, you tend to forget the fine details, maybe because you have never paid attention to it.  This adaptive function lets you store important things that need remembering.

Mood Memory: selecting memory traces of the same tone

It is the nature of the mind to choose memory depending on your emotional state. Hence when you are in a happy mood, happy memories surface, and a bad mood makes a person vulnerable to negative thoughts.

Blanking out: Stress making you forgetful

Stress or anxiety can lead to situational memory deficit, like blanking out during an exam or interview even when have prepared and know things. Under situations of high stimulation, the memory gets narrow and information can be lost.

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