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The Neuroplasticity of Memory

We often wish that we can remember more, and we get puzzled when we forget memories. The general assumption is that over time memories decay and eventually become forgotten. However, some scientists are now suggesting that forgetting is a form of learning. On January 13, 2022, Tomás J. Ryan and Paul W. Frankland published an article in Nature Reviews Neuroscience titled “Forgetting as a form of adaptive engram cell plasticity.In this article, they suggest that our ability to retrieve memories is based on environmental feedback and predictability. For instance, if an individual makes a memory in an environment that does not represent their current surroundings, then forgetting that memory can be beneficial and lead to open-minded behavior and adaptive decision-making. Essentially this means that these scientists believe that humans learn to retain important memories and forget irrelevant ones. Both Dr. Ryan and Dr. Frankland are fellows of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and they collaborated on this project through its Child and Brain Development program. To learn more about these scientists visit: https://cifar.ca/bios/tomas-ryan/, and https://cifar.ca/bios/paul-frankland/. To view the journal article that this piece was based on visit: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41583-021-00548-3.

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