How Your Memory Rewrites the Past

Neuroscience and Conflict Resolution Blog by Stephanie West Allen

Since the past is usually an important factor in a dispute, understanding the process of memory can be helpful to anyone involved in the dispute and its resolution. Although the malleability of memory is not a new topic here at this blog, a reminder can be of value. So here’s a news release from Northwestern University.

Your memory is no video camera; it edits the past with present experiences

February 4, 2014 | by Marla Paul

CHICAGO — Your memory is a wily time traveler, plucking fragments of the present and inserting them into the past, reports a new Northwestern Medicine® study. In terms of accuracy, it’s no video camera.

Rather, the memory rewrites the past with current information, updating your recollections with new experiences.

Love at first sight, for example, is more likely a trick of your memory than a Hollywood-worthy moment.

“When you think back to when you met your current partner, you may recall this feeling of love and euphoria,” said lead author Donna Jo Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow in medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “But you may be projecting your current feelings back to the original encounter with this person.”

The study is published Feb. 5 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

This the first study to show specifically how memory is faulty, and how it can insert things from the present into memories of the past when those memories are retrieved. The study shows the exact point in time when that incorrectly recalled information gets implanted into an existing memory.

To help us survive, Bridge said, our memories adapt to an ever-changing environment and help us deal with what’s important now.

“Our memory is not like a video camera,” Bridge said. “Your memory reframes and edits events to create a story to fit your current world. It’s built to be current.”

Click here to read the rest.

 

                        author

Stephanie West Allen

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… MORE >

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