Why do we forget things?

+76 votes
asked Apr 6, 2015 in Science by Viola (580 points)
I can remember all sorts of useless trivia and even some obscure facts and history, but I seem to forget the simplest things like going to the post office. It seems like once something is in our brain that there’s nowhere for it to go. So why do we forget things?

3 Answers

+20 votes
answered Apr 11, 2015 by zayna (380 points)
One of the reasons why we forget things is because the information just decays over time. We have to recall information often and recite it sometimes in order for it to stick. That’s why the longer you’ve been out of school and don’t access the kind of information you used to, it just starts to fade away. Part of this is because we take in so much information every day that the most recent things you access are at the forefront of your mind while you start forgetting the older stuff. It’s easier to remember your grocery list when you’ve recited it a few times and gone over the items right before you leave than if you’re just trying to remember the things you’ve ran out of in the past few weeks. Those older memories just didn’t stick.
+10 votes
answered Apr 13, 2015 by selam (1,220 points)
So why do we forget things? Just like it’s difficult to pay attention and focus while learning or doing something when there’s a bunch of distractions, interference makes us forget things we’d normally remember too. It’s hard to remember who left you a voicemail earlier that morning when you’ve been dealing with a crying baby since you woke up. When you’re trying to remember something and there’re distractions all around you, it just overloads your brain.
+10 votes
answered Apr 13, 2015 by Verna-Catherine (900 points)
As we make new memories or store new information, we start to lose the older ones or less important things. Natural decay and replacement causes us to forget. Even though we have the ability to store a very large amount of memories, it’s possible and quite frequent that our brain just replaces memories as we collect more.
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