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Bad Memory? Don't Worry, You Might Just Be More Intelligent

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Arsey housemate having a pop at you for forgetting to take the bins out? Girlfriend angry with you for failing to remember an anniversary? Or perhaps your boss has threatened you with a disciplinary for forgetting what time your shift started, reported LADbible (US).

Whatever it is, you can now respond by reassuring them that it's actually because you have a superior intellect and are quite possibly a genius. That should get them off your case.

According to a study published in the journal Neuron, having a spotless memory isn't all it's cracked up to be.

What's more, it looks like aside from forgetting things being normal, it actually makes us smarter.

In the report, researchers Paul Frankland and Blake Richards of the University of Toronto, suggest the purpose of memory is not to retain the most accurate possible information over long periods of time; it's actually to optimise intelligent decision making by holding onto vital details and forgetting things that are less important.

That's why you can remember what time you're supposed to be meeting your mates at the pub, but you forgot to submit your tax return. Again, if HMRC comes knocking at the door, just tell them you're a genius, and they will no doubt apologise and leave you alone.

"It's important that the brain forgets irrelevant details and instead focuses on the stuff that's going to help make decisions in the real world," says Richards, an associate fellow in the Learning in Machines and Brains program.

"We know that exercise increases the number of neurons in the hippocampus, but they're exactly those details from your life that don't actually matter, and that may be keeping you from making good decisions."

The researchers reached their conclusion after looking at years of data on memory, memory loss, and brain activity in both humans and animals. What they found was that as new brain cells are formed in the hippocampus - the part of the brain associated with learning new things - the new connections overwrite old memories, making them more difficult to access.

"We all admire the person who can smash Trivial Pursuit or win at Jeopardy, but the fact is that evolution shaped our memory not to win a trivia game, but to make intelligent decisions," says Richards. "And when you look at what's needed to make intelligent decisions, we would argue that it's healthy to forget some things."

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