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Forgetfulness : A Sign Of High Intellect


Forgetfulness: A Sign of High Intellect

Leshan Kereto

Egerton University, Kenya.

Intelligence is one very admired trait in the developing world of innovations, inventions and discoveries. As all these are  pursued, there comes the need to store the wide scope of information coming through every single second and being able to apply it in productive processes. This brings up the mystery of whether high intellect really equals high memory. The understanding of the relationship between both becomes vital and of great attraction to research and study. Are bright people often very forgetful? Well lets get to the basis of intellect and memory.

Intelligence has been defined widely by different scientist, authors and researchers. The popular one is, intelligence is the ability to perceive or infer information, retain it as knowledge to be able to apply it in current and future situations that require problem solving enabling one to adapt to situations. This enables one to learn, form concepts, understand and reason.  Intellect is not anatomically situated in one place in the brain, but it is rather widely distributed in both hemispheres of the cerebral cortex that enables cooperation between different sections to ensure intellectual function is achieved. Past studies have showed that the more the connections between both cerebral cortices gives one a higher intellectual ability. Lately levels of intelligence has been attributed to tests that develop the widely known intelligence quotient.

Memory comes immediately after intellect in order of importance. Memory is the retention of information over time to influence future action. Memory has been classified into different classes including short-term memory (working memory), intermediate and long term memory along side other classification. Brain involvement in memory includes the hippocampus, amygdala and striatum. Short term memory involves storage of short term information that enables one do tasks at hand. High intellect individuals mostly operate from short term memory. Long term memory involves storage of information as a result of repeated activities to ensure creation of traces.

Bright fellows, as commonly referred to as geniuses or intellectuals have been known to be pretty forgetful. This is quite ironical as they are expected to have a superb memory that can grasp and store information for several decades. This is often not the case as most intellectuals have been known to forget several events like family gatherings, weddings or parties, little tasks like assignments, where they placed their pens, forgetting to change or clean their clothes, forgetting classes and lectures resulting in late time rushing. This is often perceived as stupid and irresponsible and has been falsely associated with poor intellectual levels. However this may not always be the case as high intellect has been recently associated with poor memory to several aspects. The following are proves and reasons as to why high intellect is closely related to less memory functions.

Intellectuals perceive and store memory in order of relevance. Whatever keeps their minds on toes keeps their memory standing longer . Very important activities that gets them using their minds often come first. This ranges from involvement in research, discoveries and doing hard tasks that require high intellect to games and arguments that help them. As opposed to this, common “normal” activities that may not involve deep thinking or difficult analysis may not be favoured by the memory of a smart person. This may include normal activities and events like, going to a wedding, attending a lecture on a simple subject, engaging in physical activities and engaging in small talk about common issues. This is often stored in short term memory and it lasts as much as its being encoded. Scientific research has backed this by showing that there are billions of cells that are ready to store as much information as possible but it also has away of disintegrating information perceived as not important to an extend of only leaving what that particular individual considers as vital and necessary for survival. Anyway, if one stored every bit of information for example all the numbers on scratch cards or on car number plates, this may make it difficult during critical thinking since one is forced peruse around a wide scope of irrelevant junk so as to get to the required kind of data. This will show that too much effort will be required to be smart and solve problems as compared to storing of important information first that can be easily accessed during need. So next time you cannot remember you own birthday party, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Another negative trait is the issues of repetition and routine. To a smart person, one touch and first hand grasp is necessary to understand and encode into memory. This is because it is boring to do the same tasks everyday over and over again. This is why most intellectuals are forever restless moving from one job to another and  doing little stupid things. This is in an attempt to distract themselves from repetition and routine. This has been evident with some students even missing, sleeping or using their phones during lectures. This is because they may have already gone intellectually over the entire lecture or subject and already grasped the entire scope and so repetition may come as an abuse to ones intellect and a mere waste of time. This is however very detrimental to the process of memory formation. This is because  creation of long term memory is a result of repetition of the information being stored in short term memory to create new traces by facilitation and thus store information for a long term period. Failure to repeat will lead to quick forgetting and this may  affect the working of such individuals since they cannot apply what they have learnt before in future situations. As the saying goes that practice makes perfect, well our brainy fellow here may not have the golden chance to become perfect to lack of practice.

Experience may not always be the best teacher. Most intellectuals believe as much as one is in their rightful state of mind, they can solve any problem clearly even with limited amount of practical experience. People who have done a certain tasks or a profession have always been perceived as being smart. Well, to some extent, this my not be true since they may be doing the same things they did before without tailoring their solutions to fit in the current. As opposed to this an intellectual only requires very little experience and a good amount of their high intellect to practically give the best solution to any problem. With the current life expectancy one cannot rely on  experience to be the best in their fields. You only live once and there is not enough time to experience everything so you get to apply all over again.

Ironically this problem of being forgetful may also in a way be of benefit to their mental ability. This is because when one finds themselves in a complex situations and they cannot remember what to do. This often stimulates one to think faster and invent new ways to solve the current situations. This has been very evident in exams situations where a smart student may draw connections between questions and use the little they know to bring about an answer that may not exact in the books but a perfect answer that makes absolute sense to the question. This a very clear model of an intellectual. This has also been seen when one is found in trouble. One does not need to do a course in professional lying for them to get themselves out of a situations.

This may even give an answer as to why children are pretty good at memorizing since their intellectual neuronal pathways are not completely developed yet.

Less memory may not always be the stray trait that everyone detests. It may be traces of some superior mind existing beneath. Even though less memory is a necessary evil, it will not be right to admire it, rather everyone needs to clearly understand their intellectual abilities as well ability to memorize. One should also work to improve their memory levels by knowing exactly their learning methods and tactics to ensure they can grasp effectively and store enough for future activities. This is often vital for study as well as several other fields. Tomorrow if you get to a room and forgot what you were to do there, do not commit suicide, just go test your IQ.


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Scoville, William Beecher, and Brenda Milner. “. “”Loss of recent memory after bilateral hippocampal lesions.” Journal of neurology, neurosurgery and psychiatry (1957): 11.



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