, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 480-491

Adaptive forgetting in animals


An argument is presented for the possibility that some cases of forgetting in animals are adaptive. In contrast to research on human memory, the idea of adaptive forgetting has not received much attention in research with animals. This paper reviews the status of adaptive forgetting in humans and then outlines an argument for adaptive forgetting in animals. The discussion includes theoretical presuppositions concerning forgetting, a review of selective phenomena indicative of adaptive forgetting in animals, a description of a possible mechanism (retrievability) for this kind of forgetting, and examination of the implications of this analysis for psychological and neurobiological approaches to memory processing.