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What is Memory?

What is a memory really? Is it like a video in your head? A video that you play back as many times as you’d like? No, apparently not. According to a new study in the Journal of Neuroscience, memory is more like a continuous video editing process. Pinpointed at the hippocampus where all this editing occurs, the researchers from North-western University say that even your vague recollections of your love at first sight, or your 12th birthday, or your first PlayStation might all just be tricks of memory. When you think back on a memory, you might not be remembering what you felt at that time, but rather, projecting current feelings back to that memory, thereby associating the two together. Memories are continually adapting to the changing environment to help us survive, prioritize tasks, and deal with what is most important at the moment. Memory alters and adapts past events in our mind to create a scenario that might fit with the present. Memory seems to be built with the ‘now’

Study on Memory

Dr. Donna Jo Bridge, Northwestern University The experiment conducted by the researchers involved 17 men and women on a two-step experiment involving looking and moving objects on a computer screen. These tests were taken with the participants in an MRI scanner to allow the brain to be monitored. In the first step of the experiment, the participants were presented objects that were set on completely different backgrounds. On the second step, the participants were then presented with the same objects, except that the backgrounds have been mixed up. They were then asked to rematch the objects with their backgrounds in step one.
Someone rubbing out the brain of a drawing
Interestingly, none of the participants were able to get the objects in the correct place of the screen. Original memory has been affected to reflect the newer, more relevant information. In this case, they recalled the new background screen more than the first one presented to them.

What were the findings of the study on our Memory?

Memory is updating the information by altering the old information to suit the new one. The researchers carrying out the experiment also noted that the implications of this sort of findings on eyewitness testimonies might be astronomical. Apparently, eye witnesses might not be as reliable as they purportedly are today. Although the researchers have submitted the report, they do note that this study was conducted in a controlled experiment, and do have limitations. However, they speculate that it’s safe to say that this applies to everyone as well. It really seems to be that your memory is just not as reliable as you thought it was. Probably a reason why you’re always losing your car keys and looking in all the wrong places.
Car keys in car door

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