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Can the human brain become too 'full' ?

Posted on Saturday, 6 June, 2015 | Comment icon 35 comments

Is it possible to remember too much information ? Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Allan Ajifo
With all the information we take in on a daily basis is it possible for the brain to run out of space ?
On the face of it our brains would seem to be capable of storing a practically limitless amount of information including our memories, the skills we have learned and all of our general knowledge.

According to scientists however it isn't possible for the brain to reach maximum capacity because it will sometimes start to forget things in order to learn new information.

It certainly makes sense to be able to forget things as there is a lot that we remember that ultimately proves useless. In the case of receiving a new PIN number for your bank card for instance the memory of the old number will slowly disappear in favor of remembering the new one.

Sometimes old memories can even prove to be a nuisance such as in the case of trying to recall where you parked your car and mixing it up with the memory of parking it on a previous day.
Not everyone is able to take the ability to forget things for granted however.

Hyperthymestic syndrome, which enables someone to recall just about everything that ever happened to them in perfect detail, might at first glance sound like a blessing, but many sufferers tend to have difficulty concentrating on the present or future because their minds are swimming with a practically limitless supply of past memories that they are unable to let go of.

At the other end of the spectrum there are also those who can barely remember anything at all and even have problems recalling things that happened to them only a few minutes earlier.

Ultimately though it is the balance between remembering and forgetting that enables us to manage what we keep in our heads and to continue to function effectively in our everyday lives.

Source: The Conversation | Comments (35)

Tags: Brain

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #26 Posted by BeastieRunner on 8 June, 2015, 16:38
I have a good memory if I get good sleep. If my sleep sucks, that I can't remember a thing. Not sure if I'm at capacity yet.
Comment icon #27 Posted by TheGreatBeliever on 10 June, 2015, 9:08
Thats when headaches n migrane start..
Comment icon #28 Posted by baronesslucy on 14 June, 2015, 12:37
It's possible that when you feel like you are having a brain overload, that this might be an indication that the brain is full. When I've had this, it's hard for me to think straight. If it's possible, I stop what I'm doing and then go back to it later. Usually this had happened when I'm doing something I'm not familiar with.
Comment icon #29 Posted by regeneratia on 14 June, 2015, 16:01
I don't think the human brain runs out of space. I think if things get so cluttered in the mind, there are specific low priority memories that are purged. Selective memory. There is research on that too. Some people lose their memories of things and some don't.
Comment icon #30 Posted by Michelle on 15 June, 2015, 3:11
How funny! For many years, when someone older has apologized for not being able to remember something, I told them it wasn't a problem...they just had more files to go through to get to it.
Comment icon #31 Posted by Waziya Sioux on 15 June, 2015, 6:57
Are you serious ? People dont use their brains most are too lazy to get past the 5th grade . Most likely full of cobwebs !
Comment icon #32 Posted by lightly on 15 June, 2015, 11:08
too full ? Nah... It has to process new information constantly our entire lives.
Comment icon #33 Posted by =Jak= on 15 June, 2015, 11:43
My brain is empty but recycle bin is fully filled.
Comment icon #34 Posted by karmakazi on 16 June, 2015, 15:37
That you remember "Married with Children" alone means you have a good memory. It was one of my favorite shows! Wait...should I be admitting that in public?
Comment icon #35 Posted by spud the mackem on 17 June, 2015, 9:43
Now where did I put my specs...oh yes, in the car, now where did I park the car.

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