Fugget About It

In addition to remembering stuff, our brains are busy forgetting about other stuff.  It turns out that forgetting is not a purely accidental process, its an active process, pruning the memory collection.  Memories deemed useless, obsolete or significantly redundant are actively suppressed.  Interestingly enough, these processes seem to be essentially the same in the 250,000 neuron fruit-fly brain and our own with roughly 86 billion neurons.

This process is discussed in Spolsky's Behave, a book I've been reading and writing about lately, but some new research is featured in Quanta here.
One form of active forgetting that scientists formally identified in 2017is called intrinsic forgetting. It involves a certain subset of cells in the brain — which Ronald Davis and Yi Zhong, who wrote the paper that introduced the idea, casually call “forgetting cells” — that degrade the engrams in memory cells.
There are others.  It seems that at least initially, memories are merely suppressed rather than erased.  I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I can't recall names anymore.


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