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Your Brain Is Playing A Constant Game Of Telephone With Your Memories

By 09.21.12

A study led by Donna Bridge at Northwestern University in Illinois is the first to demonstrate something we’ve suspected for years. Our memories are far less reliable than we think, particularly those memories we hold the most dear and recall more often.

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. [Northwestern]

Bridge says, “If you remember something in the context of a new environment and time, or if you are even in a different mood, your memories might integrate the new information.” Our memories are adaptive, rather than static. The research of 70 test subjects was published in this week’s Journal of Neuroscience.

Researchers conducted the study by having people relate objects to locations on a grid over the course of three days. They found that while recollections on the second day had only a few inaccuracies, for recollections on the third day subjects took those second day inaccuracies as their real memories, and placed objects closer to the inaccurate coordinates that they now remembered as being the correct ones. [Geekosystem]

So that theme every French novelist from 1913 to 1961 was harping on constantly turned out to be true? They’re going to respond to this vindication by scowling into a leather-bound journal while penning a poem that near rhymes ennui with saccharine, we’re sure of it.


TAGSDONNA BRIDGEILLINOISmemoryneurosciencenorthwestern universityscience

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