The hidden benefits of forgetfulness

The pain of forgetting: We have all had those excruciating moments where a vital piece of information is on the tip of our tongue.

Seeing the bright side: Forgetting things is annoying, there is no doubt about it. 

Basic theory: In order to understand how forgetfulness can be beneficial, we need to understand how memories work. 

Retrieval strength: Rather, they have two components: retrieval strength and storage strength.

Storage strength: Storage strength refers to how fully represented the memory is in your mind.

Example parent's name: A memory with both high retrieval strength and high storage strength.

Example phone number: By contrast, a phone number that you learnt five minutes ago would have low retrieval and storage strength.

Example friend of a friend's name: The name of someone you just met at a party is likely to have a high retrieval strength,

Example lyrics to favorite song: And finally, the lyrics to your favorite song would be said to have a high storage strength, but a low retrieval strength.

Retrieval vs. storage strength: Using forgetfulness to our advantage relies on the interplay between the retrieval strength and the storage strength of a memory.

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