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Your Memory is like the Telephone Game: Each time you recall an event, Your Brain Distorts It

by Stephanie West Allen
September 2012

Neuroscience and Conflict Resolution Blog by Stephanie West Allen

Stephanie West Allen
Related to my last post which was on the malleability of memory . . .

News release from Northwestern University:

Remember the telephone game where people take turns whispering a message into the ear of the next person in line? By the time the last person speaks it out loud, the message has radically changed. It’s been altered with each retelling. 

Turns out your memory is a lot like the telephone game, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study. 

Every time you remember an event from the past, your brain networks change in ways that can alter the later recall of the event. Thus, the next time you remember it, you might recall not the original event but what you remembered the previous time. The Northwestern study is the first to show this. 

“A memory is not simply an image produced by time traveling back to the original event -- it can be an image that is somewhat distorted because of the prior times you remembered it,” said Donna Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the paper on the study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience. “Your memory of an event can grow less precise even to the point of being totally false with each retrieval.”

Click to read the rest. Click to read the abstract of the study (Journal of Neuroscience).

Biography


Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive with Center co-founder Gary Friedman. She has been a mediator for over two and one-half decades.

She is the author of Triversity Fantasy — Seven Keys To Unlock Prejudice, Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook and many articles on workplace and professional issues for such publications as Lawyer Hiring and Training Report, Colorado Nurse, The Complete Lawyer, National Law Journal, Of Counsel, Law Practice and Denver Business Journal.



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Website: www.westallen.typepad.com/idealawg/

Additional articles by Stephanie West Allen

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