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Learning by Forgetting

Recent studies suggest forgetting might not be a bad thing but rather, a form of learning, and it might not be a problem with our brains.  

woman holding her head stressed at the computer because of a nursing home abuse situation

Dr. Tomás Ryan, whose research was done at the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute said, “Memories are stored in ensembles of neurons called engram cells; successful recall of these memories involves the reactivation of these ensembles. Forgetting occurs when engram cells cannot be reactivated. However, it is increasingly becoming clear the memories themselves are still there, but the specific ensembles are not activated so the memory isn’t recalled. It’s as if the memories are stored in a safe but you can’t remember the code to unlock it.”

The researchers thought forgetting some memories would be beneficial because it might lead to more flexible behavior and better decision-making. In a changing world like ours, forgetting some memories can be beneficial as this can lead to more flexible behavior and better decision-making.

An “engram” is a group of brain cells that store a specific memory, and the study showed stimulation of the cells with light-activated the retrieval of apparently lost memories.

Because “natural forgetting” may be reversible in certain circumstances, this work has significant implications for people living with brain injury.

You can find more information about the study at

Memory problems are among the most frequent complaints after brain injury. If you’ve had a brain injury because of another’s negligence, it’s important to understand your legal rights. The experienced personal injury lawyers with Cantor Grana Buckner Bucci can help you understand your options for compensation; call us.

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