This morning’s MPR Midmorning’s discussion about forgetting and memory was fascinating in a this-is-the-day-I-figure-out-time-travel sort of way.
You have to give host Kerri Miller credit for pluckiness and persistence because it started out the way too many math classes started when I was in school: Too hard. Checking out.
Early on, one of the guests Dr. Gayatri Devi, director of New York Memory and Healthy Aging Services, tried to differentiate between forgetting and memory, when Kerri asked why we’re able to consciously remember something, but we can’t consciously forget something?
“Forgetting has to occur constantly and if we had to consciously remember what we forget, we would not be able to function. It would overwhelm our mental capacity.”
Like, umm, now.
But James McGaugh, a neuroscientist and founding director of the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California-Irvine, took another tack in explaining why the brain forgets things. Otherwise, it would be a curse, as in the case of Jill Price.
“She’s a prisoner of her memories,” McGaugh acknowledged. “She can remember her 13th birthday but when she remembers it, she’ll also remember that someone there insulted her… She is able to call up all sorts of good information, in doing so she unearths a lot of unpleasant things.”
Give the show a listen:
If you could remember everything, would you want to?