In fact, forgetting is a very active process, albeit subconscious, neuroscientists say. The mind is constantly evaluating, editing and sorting information, all at lightning speed. "Your brain is only taking a small amount in, and it's already erasing vast amounts that won't be needed again," Dr. Devi says. ...I've found that for myself, while I might not remember certain things most of the time, I'll suddenly remember it in vivid detail later on if something triggers it. Memory has always been an interesting subject to me; who remembers Encyclopedia Brown or Cam Jansen? As a little kid I'd sometimes blink and say "click!" if I wanted to remember something.
Are memories for events you didn't focus on stored in your brain nevertheless -- like unwatched bank-surveillance tapes? That's an area of much debate. Some experts believe hypnosis can trigger long-buried associations. But so-called recovered memories are also susceptible to distortion.
"Memory consists of billions of puzzle pieces, and many of them look the same," Dr. Devi says. "Each time you retrieve a memory, you're reconstructing a puzzle very quickly and breaking it down again. Some of the pieces get put back in different places."
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I thought this article on memory and the ability to forget things was very interesting. Excerpts: