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Study suggests forgetting is a type of learning

Study suggests forgetting is a type of learning

Scientists propose that forgetting can be considered a form of learning. The study has been published by Nature Reviews Neuroscience Journal.

According to the new theory, changes in our ability access certain memories are caused by environmental feedback and predictability. Failing to remember is not a problem, but a function of the brain that allows it to interact dynamically and with the environment. It can be beneficial to forget some memories in a changing environment like the one we live in. This can help us to be more flexible and make better decisions. For those memories that were not directly relevant to the current environment they are possible to forget them and improve our wellbeing.

Scientists believe that we learn to forget important memories while keeping others. While forgetting of course can result in lost information, increasing evidence suggests that forgetting is more likely to be due to memory access changes than memory loss. Dr Tomas Ryan, Associate Professor at the School of Biochemistry and Immunology and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin, and Paul Frankland Professor at the University of Toronto and Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, have proposed a new theory.

Dr Frankland and Dr Ryan are both fellows of CIFAR, a Canadian global research organization. This program allows for collaboration through its Child & Brain Development program. It is pursuing interdisciplinary research in this area. Dr Ryan, whose research team is located at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, (TBSI), stated that “Memories can be stored in groups of neurons called “engram cells” and that successful recall involves the activation of these ensembles. This is logically extended to say that forgetting can occur when engram cell cannot be activated. The memories are not lost, but the memory ensembles can’t be activated. It’s like the memories are stored in safes but you don’t remember the code that unlocks them.

“Our new theory proposes forgetting is due circuit remodelling that switches cells from access to an inaccessible condition to engram cells. We believe that forgetting is actually a form learning that alters memory accessibility according to the environment and how predictable it can be, because forgetting’s rate is affected by the environment. Dr Frankland said, “There are many ways that our brains forget, but all act to make it harder to access the engram, the physical embodiment of a mental memory.”

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Dr Ryan and Frankland discussed the case of pathological forgottenting in disease. Dr Ryan and Frankland stated that “Importantly” they believe that this “natural forgetting”, if reversed in certain circumstances, is possible. However, in disease states such as Alzheimer’s, where these natural forgetting mechanisms are hijacked and thereby result in a greatly reduced engram cells accessibility and pathological memories loss, respectively. (ANI)

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff. It is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.

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