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Forget and forgive

Sami Muirhead says while forgetfulness can be inconvenient – especially when you forget why you went to the shops – it’s actually a sign of intelligence.

Opinion

Forget and forgive

Sami Muirhead says while forgetfulness can be inconvenient – especially when you forget why you went to the shops – it’s actually a sign of intelligence.

Scientists say being forgetful is a sign you are unusually intelligent. Phew! If forgetfulness is based on intelligence, then I am pretty much a genius.

I attribute having babies for wiping out my memory for much of the past eight years of my life. I often joke that I have felt drunk for the best part of a decade, with many memories fuzzy to say the least.

My youngest baby is now four years old, so I am not sure how much longer I can hang onto this as an excuse for my forgetfulness. Perhaps I am just really bad at keeping all the balls in the air.

Before 8am, I have given hundreds of instructions and directed four lives (three kids, one husband) by making breakfast, ensuring each kid eats breakfast, begging each kid to take their bowl to the sink, repeating my request to take the dish to the sink, barking orders for teeth to be brushed teeth, hair to be combed and shoes to be found and put on the right feet. This is usually done while answering 235 questions.

My day can include a varied schedule such as getting the kids to swimming lessons, paying bills, buying birthday party gifts, trying hard to act in control at work, remembering to phone mum, remembering to book that doctor’s appointment, remembering to phone back a friend who called me three weeks ago and kicking myself for forgetting to buy Glad Wrap.

And do not get me started on how many numbers and passwords are in our heads: the kids’ passwords, my work passwords and security codes and pin numbers for banking. No wonder I end up at the shops and I can’t remember what I’m meant to be buying. Last week I went to buy cheese for homemade pizzas and spent $300 on groceries, only to drive home without any cheese.

Well, some relief. A new study by Neuron journal says forgetting is part of a brain process that might actually make you smarter by the time the day is over.

Professors took part in the study and found a good memory does not actually reflect your level of intelligence. Even more exciting is the finding that when you forget details, it can even make you smarter.

It all has to do with remembering the big picture as opposed to the little details. Remembering the big picture is better for our brain and for our safety. It is kind of like dumping a whole stack of photos and apps from your phone to help it work better.

The hippocampus gets rid of small details. In my case, that usually means names or friends’ birthdays. The research shows when the brain becomes cluttered with too many memories, they tend to fight with each other and that slows down our ability to make important decisions.

So rest easier tonight that if you are forgetful you are in an elite club of intelligent Coasties. Now. What was it again I was I meant to buy for dinner tonight?

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Sami Muirhead is a radio announcer, blogger and commentator. For more from Sami tune into Mix FM.

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