For many of us, the idea of our brain storing all of our memories can be a little difficult to wrap our heads around. However, the mechanics utilized in memory can help us understand exactly “how” we forget things. The storage and recollection of memory is quite a phenomenon that scientists are still in the process of fully comprehending, but they do know a few reasons as to why we forget.
One reason is because once information is entered into our brain, the data will quickly be forgotten unless it is used. Over time, even when information is used, the memory of it will slowly decline.
It is also believed that memory declines over time and deteriorates slowly as neuronal organic processes begin to slow down. This is typically what is considered memory loss due to aging.
Scientists have looked into the amount of storage one’s brain can maintain at one time. It is believed that new information can push out old information, almost like a new file in a file cabinet means another file needs to go in order to make room. The older the information, the more likely it is to be irretrievable as new information is obtained in your memory.
Scientists have also shown that information is sometimes stored properly but is repressed. This happens unconsciously by most people who have memories that are extremely painful to recall or upsetting. This is a typical occurrence in adults that have been raped or abused as children, or people that have gone through a particularly traumatic experience that resulted in shock and then, later, memory loss.
Although there are numerous reasons why we forget, scientists are still trying their best to fully understand how the human brain functions and processes memory.