I’ve been reading an interesting article on memory and forgetting the things we don’t need to remember. According to Dan Schacter of Harvard University, the brain has developed strategies to weed out irrelevant or out-of-date information. Efficient forgetting is a crucial part of having a fully functioning memory. When we forget something useful, it just shows that this pruning system is working a little too well.
“In simple terms, new memories start life as the temporary excitation of synapses in a network of neurons. If you recall a memory, the same neural pathways are reactivated. The more times this happens, the more important the brain deems the memory t be and the more likely it is to be converted into a long term memory, by forming permanent connections between the neurons. These connections are reinforced each time the memory is recalled, making it easier to retrieve.”
I take this to be a reason we all can recall the hurts and downsides of our lives much clearer than the good times. The stupid embarrassing events we’d like to forget forever seem to always be lurking ready to remind us what an arse we made of ourselves. We do remember the good things that have happened but if someone asked you to quickly recall a memory, would it be happy or sad? My sister mightn't remember the lovely smile she had after getting new teeth but I'll bet she remembers sneezing and shooting them down the ward to land at Matron's feet.
In my case it was hard. The bad rushed up waving banners and I was hard put to spot the good wandering around in the background. The fiasco of my wedding day comes before the relief of him leaving me but that might be a time thing. I was married longer than I was divorced although the divorce is a much happier time than the marriage.
The memory pruning system is working well in one way ( gross-out TMI coming up) I can’t remember what he looked like naked or his dick size. Now you’d think I’d remember that, what with him standing in front of the bedroom mirror every morning, re-arranging his remaining hair strands.
But, even in those days, my brain considered it irrelevant and forgettable.