I’m having trouble focusing tonight (Thursday, June 22.) I am still thinking about the service for Sally Marcus last Sunday while thinking about the pending service for Margarett Ann Phillips tomorrow. I hope that my focus sharpens in the coming hours.
I read something today that was encouraging, an article on memory. We all have memory issues; sometimes not being able to remember something we want to remember and sometimes not being able to forget something we’d rather not remember. The bad news, we all forget things. The good news, we aren’t supposed to remember everything. Really! So say two neuroscientists. According to them, the brain/memory isn’t supposed to act like a video recorder, but instead like a list of useful information that helps us make better decisions. Our brains are programmed to erase useless memories not necessary to navigate a world that is random and ever-changing. So, not remembering every detail of my 65 years is okay, natural even.
“We have yet to find the limits of what the human brain can store, and there’s more than enough room, so to speak, for us to remember everything. Still, the brain actually spends energy making us forget, by generating new neurons that “overwrite” the old ones, or by weakening the connections between neurons. But why does it do so if our brains aren’t running out of space?
Firstly, forgetting old information can make us more efficient (something I can certainly use help with!) Forgetting old information can also keep us from generalizing too much from one piece of information. Unfortunately, the process of which, and how much, information the brain should forget can be trial and error. Our brains tend to forget memories of things that happened quickly and recently (can’t remember what I had for breakfast type things.) The brain is trying to help us survive and thrive in the environment around us, hence we feel uncomfortable in new places as we have no memories to help guide us. But it explains why we often cannot remember the name of a person, place or thing until they become integral for survival. Many of them will not be necessary for survival or navigation in the world.
So, that makes me feel better about not being able to focus tonight. It’s my brain processing which memories and information I need for survival and which ones I don’t. At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself!
Posted on Tue, June 27, 2017
by Doug Meister