Why our brains love bad news

The principle underlying learning is an evolutionary one: “Minimize danger, maximize reward.” Your brain’s limbic system is constantly scanning your surroundings for things that have the potential to either hurt or help you. 

When it discovers them, it makes mental notes that become our long-term learning and memories. Not surprisingly, most dry textbook facts don’t fit into either category. We aren’t evolutionarily designed to earn an MBA or even to get the most out of a weekly company meeting. 

The brain is very efficient and even a little lazy. If it concludes that the information is neither threatening nor rewarding, then it unceremoniously discards it without wasting precious brainpower on something it considers irrelevant.