Why do we forget things or lose memories over time?


Why do we forget things or lose memories over time?

In: 54

Former memory researcher, here.

Hypothetically, once a memory is encoded into long-term memory, it is there forever. So when you can’t remember something, it’s not because it isn’t there, but rather that you can’t find your way back to that memory.

Think about a memory like a cabin in a dense forest. If you visit that cabin often, there will be a well worn path to get there and its easy to find your way. But when you don’t visit a memory often, the path becomes overgrown and harder to find. You may not be able to locate the cabin anymore.

Now, even if we don’t visit our cabin often, we can leave ourselves clues on how to get there. For instance, if you always have delicious smelling pies cooling on the windowsill of your cabin, you can use the smell AND the path to get there. So even if the path is worn down, you’re not totally lost.

For a normal person without any brain damage, there are several reasons why we may forget things or lose memories over time.

One reason is the process of decay, where memories fade over time if they are not rehearsed or retrieved. This is because the brain is constantly exposed to new information and experiences, and it prioritizes which memories to retain based on their relevance and importance.

Another reason is that memories are stored in different regions of the brain, and the process of retrieving these memories can become more difficult with age or due to other factors such as stress.

Interference is also another reason, which is when new information competes with old information for space in the brain, making it harder to recall memories from the past.

Additionally, sleep plays an important role in memory consolidation, and lack of sleep or poor quality of sleep can affect the ability to form and retain memories. Stress and certain medical conditions can also cause memory loss.

Overall, memory loss can be a complex and multi-faceted phenomenon influenced by a variety of factors. It is important to note that some degree of memory decline with age is considered normal.

If you remembered everything, your mind would be overrun with useless information.

1) I park my car in the car park every day, that’s 2500 different places over the last 10 years. That’s a lot of information to sift through. I only need to remember today’s spot.

2) I see my colleague’s face 20 times a day, that’s 50,000 views if the same face at different angles, different lighting, different shadows. What my brain is good at is putting all memories together to make a single memory for me to recognise.

3) I know that John is a rude person and I don’t like him, that is a conclusion but up over many years, I don’t need to remember every encounter with him.

When you remember something you’re not remembering the event- you’re remembering the last time you remembered it. It’s like a screenshot of a screenshot of a screenshot…

This is a curse when we get older. But it’s likely a blessing as well. Our mental cup can hold only so much. So our mentality’s going to go through and pick out those moments in ur lives that have the least amount of effect to our lives and edit or trash completely.this is to make room for the latest and greatest moments yet to happen