Deliberately forgetting

Simon Hanslmayr, collaborating with Karl-Keinz Bäuml from the University of Regensburg and Maria Wimber from the MRC Cambridge, provided evidence that our brain deliberately forgets irrelevant information. Although forgetting normally is described as a failure of memory, it can help us to delete unwanted information in order to discharge brain capacity and to keep our memory flexible.

To explain the formation of new memories it is important to consider the neural synchronization between distant cell assemblies. On the basis of two experiments the researchers could show that a reduction in neural synchronization goes hand-in-hand with an increase of activity in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC) which is responsible for cognitive control processes. By stimulating the dlPFC the behavioral forgetting effect was increased and the neural synchrony reduced. With these results the researchers claim that prefrontally driven downregulation of long-range neural synchronization mediates goal-directed forgetting of long-term memories.

Read more about these important results in the following publication in “The Journal of Neuroscience”: 

More interesting results about “Forgetting” are explored in the second part of the workshop “Forgetting” between the Zukunftskolleg and the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Hebrew University from 27-30 October in Jerusalem.