90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Importance Of Forgetting

“Just put it out of your mind,” may be better advice than you think: We’ll look at memory and the scientific importance of forgetting.

This rendered 3-D computed tomography (CT) scan looking down the human head shows the complicated arteries and veins (in blue) supplying the brain above the base of the skull (in green). (Kai-hung Fung/National Science Foundation)

This rendered 3-D computed tomography (CT) scan looking down the human head shows the complicated arteries and veins (in blue) supplying the brain above the base of the skull (in green). (Kai-hung Fung/National Science Foundation)

We talk so much about memory.  Not losing it.  Enhancing it.  Diving into it.  Working through it.  Sometimes, says a raft of new science, it’s better to just forget.  Forgetting, it turns out, may be a key part of mental health, mental hygiene.

Sigmund Freud said deal with it.  Dive into that repressed stuff.  Work it out.  Work it through. Tony Soprano said “fuggetaboutit.”  Tony Soprano may have been right.  Remember and you’ll ruminate.  Ruminate, and you’re bummed.  The brain is also built to forget.

This hour, On Point: memory and forgetting, and when forgetting may be for the best.

-Tom Ashbrook

 

Guests

Ingrid Wickelgren, an editor at Scientific American Mind and the author of the Streams of Consciousness blog at ScientificAmerican.com. Her special report in the latest issue of Scientific American Mind, titled Forgetting is Key to a Healthy Mind.

Michael Anderson, a professor at the University of Cambridge and a member of their Memory Research Group.

Alison Winter, associate professor of history at the University of Chicago. She’s the author of the forthcoming book Memory: Fragments of a Modern History.

From Tom’s Reading List

Scientific American Mind “Solomon Shereshevsky could recite entire speeches, word for word, after hearing them once. In minutes, he memorized complex math formulas, passages in foreign languages and tables consisting of 50 numbers or nonsense syllables. The traces of these sequences were so durably etched in his brain that he could reproduce them years later, according to Russian psychologist Alexander R. Luria, who wrote about the man he called, simply, “S” in The Mind of a Mnemonist.”

Salon “One of the most tenacious themes of 20th-century memory research was the idea that people tormented by the memories of terrible experiences could benefit from remembering them, and from remembering them better. The assumption — broadly indebted to psychoanalysis — was that psychological records of traumatic events often failed to be fully “integrated” into conscious memories. ”

 

Playlist

“Unforgettable”  by Nat King Cole

“Forget You”  by Cee Lo Green

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Oct 23, 2014
Specialist Ronnie Howard, center, calls out prices as he works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014. Beyond the turmoil shaking financial markets, the U.S. economy remains sturdier than many seem to fear. (AP)

The global economic wobble. Europe weakness. China fears. Wild markets. We’ll lay out the global economy now.

Oct 23, 2014
A screenshot from the interactive game, "Depression Quest," the game at the root of the ongoing #GamerGate controversy. (Courtesy  "Depression Quest")

#GamerGate. Sexism, misogyny and rough stuff in a video game world culture clash.

RECENT
SHOWS
Oct 22, 2014
Authors Nicholas Kristof and wife Sheryl WuDunn attend the premiere of "Meena" at the AMC Loews Theater on Thursday, June 26, 2014 in New York.

Author and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof says regular folks like us can change the world. He explains how. Plus: we remember the late, great Washington Post editor, Ben Bradlee.

 
Oct 22, 2014
Health workers carry the body of a woman suspected of contracting the Ebola virus in Bomi county situated on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (AP)

We’ll go to Liberia, and hear from a pastor and a physician at the epicenter of the Ebola crisis.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Introducing The Explicast: A New Podcast From On Point Radio
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

Confused about the news? Don’t worry: so are we sometimes! Introducing a new On Point Radio podcast: The Explicast. You can find Episode One right here.

More »
3 Comments
 
Two LIVE Tracks From Jazz Violinist Regina Carter
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

Regina Carter shares two live tracks — one arrangement, and one original composition — with Tom Ashbrook in the On Point studio.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: October 17, 2014
Friday, Oct 17, 2014

We talk Facebook mishaps, whether Katy Perry was actually right and the glory of architectural giants and their iconic windows.

More »
Comment