how can our brains remember that we forgot something, but it can’t remember what we forgot?

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how can our brains remember that we forgot something, but it can’t remember what we forgot?

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You’re remembering something else connected to what you forgot. For example if you were going to tell someone something but forgot what it was. You know you forgot the thing you were going to say but remember that you wanted to say it.

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This question asks “how is it possible?” and not “how does it work?”, so I won’t talk about actual brains here. But even very simple information storage and retrieval systems can be constructed so that it’s obvious when information has been lost.

For example, let’s say you have a book with 100 numbered pages in it.

Page 46 might be blanked out. You know that’s an error, since there is no page numbered 46 after page 45, and page 47 doesn’t pick up where 45 left off. Something is missing.

You don’t know what was on page 46, but you can be pretty sure it’s gone.

We can think of the brain as a library, with an index and all the books. Sometimes you see an entry on the index but cant find it on the library, then later when searching for something unrelated find the original thing you wanted.

Im thinking its kinda like this: when a program knows a file is supposed to be there, yet it cant be found, an error comes back. Us ‘remebering we forgot something’ is the brain recognizing a missing piece, and its error message.