Why Do We Forget? New Theory Says “Forgetting” Is Actually a Form of Learning - SciTechDaily
Jan 16, 2022 1 min, 22 secs
By Trinity College Dublin.

Counter to the general assumption that memories simply decay with time, ‘forgetting’ might not be a bad thing – that is according to scientists who believe it may represent a form of learning.

The scientists behind the new theory – outlined today in leading international journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience – suggest that changes in our ability to access specific memories are based on environmental feedback and predictability.

In a changing world like the one we and many other organisms live in, forgetting some memories can be beneficial as this can lead to more flexible behavior and better decision-making.

The new theory proposes that forgetting is due to circuit remodelling that switches engram cells from an accessible to an inaccessible state.

An engram cell.

The logical extension of this is that forgetting occurs when engram cells cannot be reactivated.

“Our new theory proposes that forgetting is due to circuit remodeling that switches engram cells from an accessible to an inaccessible state.

“There are multiple ways in which our brains forget, but all of them act to make the engram – the physical embodiment of a memory – harder to access.”.

“Importantly, we believe that this ‘natural forgetting’ is reversible in certain circumstances, and that in disease states – such as in people living with Alzheimer’s disease for example – these natural forgetting mechanisms are hijacked, which results in greatly reduced engram cell accessibility and pathological memory loss.”!

Reference: “Forgetting as a form of adaptive engram cell plasticity” by Tomás J.

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