So people do only remember what they want to remember.
New research shows that we can control our memory just as well as we can control our motor impulses.
Psychology researcher Gerd Thomas Waldhauser from Lind University in Sweden has conducted neuroimaging studies that show that humans can train themselves to forget things.
This is the first solid proof of the theory since Freud first put the idea forward at the start of the last century.
Electroencephalography tests were applied to volunteers who were asked to practice forgetting. The results showed that, when a memory was suppressed, the same parts of the brain were activated as when we try to stop a physical motor impulse, such as stopping ourselves catching a falling knife.
The researcher is very clear that the memories the volunteers were asked to forget were neutral facts. Any traumatic memory or one with deep emotional attachment would be much harder to eradicate.
But this will give hope that those people suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder to forget the negative thoughts on which their medical problems may be based.
Waldhauser has also been able to show the exact moment at which the memory becomes inhibited. This inhibition does wear off, but if reapplied over and over again it makes the information more and more difficult to retrieve.
This technique could also be used by those of us who have some embarrassing moments that we would rather forget. But the problem is that you may forget it, but everyone else will remember it, probably with some merriment. And they will be all too happy to help you remember.
Now what were we talking about?