Memories are formed by strong synaptic connections between nerve cells. Researchers at UBC have discovered that these “sticky synapses” in the brain can impair new learning by excessively hard-wiring old memories and inhibiting our ability to adapt to a changing environment, as well as the ability to modify behaviors to adjust to circumstances that are similar, but not identical, to previous experiences.

 

The researchers note that cognitive flexibility involves actively weakening old memory traces - in certain situations, you have to be able to forget how to learn.

Can new memories affect old ones?