• Question: Why do people forget stuff?

    Asked by emmagrace to Dalya, Derek, Sarah, Tim, Tom on 21 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Tim Millar

      Tim Millar answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      I can’t remember! Its to do with being able to store and recall information and to do that we often associate it with a clue or trigger. Find the right trigger and you will recall the information. Sometimes this storage process goes wrong to finding it again is more difficult in the brain. With practice you can improve your memory too which is quite neat.

    • Photo: Sarah Thomas

      Sarah Thomas answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      First your memories are stored in the short term memory stored in your cerebral cortex. Then over time, they are converted to long term memories by the hippocampus. The hippocampus sorts them into 2 categories: procedural memory and declarative memory. Procedural memory is things that you learn sub-consciously like learning to ride a bike. Declarative memory is when you can recall facts and events. I guess when you are busy or stressed, it is easy to forget the short term stuff, and I suppose when the hippocampus is sorting out the memories, maybe it decides which ones are important or not. Sleeping is supposed to help with the consolidation of memeories so maybe if you haven’t been sleeping well, you may also find it hard to remember things.

      Memory loss is also caused by damage to the brain as a result of an injury and this condition is called amnesia.

    • Photo: Derek McKay-Bukowski

      Derek McKay-Bukowski answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      Memory is a chemical process. If we reinforce that chemical process enough, it becomes easier to remember. If we don’t then it is easy to forget it.

      It is like writing something down. If you use a faint pencil it may be difficult to read later. If you use a big felt-tip marker pen, then it is easy to read.

      “writing” memory into the brain is a bit the same way. And, as Sarah says, if there is brain damage, sometimes this can also destroy that written memory.

    • Photo: Tom Crick

      Tom Crick answered on 21 Jun 2011:

      I can’t remember the answer to this question…