Thinking Substance

memory

Is our Memory Unreliable?

Is our Memory Unreliable? Memory is the storing of information and experience into the unconscious and conscious mind. Short-term memory is the retention of limited material for a limited time. Long-term memory stores information permanently. Long-term memory allows us to retain, retrieve and make use of skills and information. It is stored and recalled based on meaning and association. 

Neuroscientists have shown every time we retrieve a memory the events are reconstructed; this means we alter the memory, making the memory lose its accuracy as time passes.

In a 1932 study, Frederic Bartlett created a case study demonstrating how telling and retelling stories distorted the information. He told participants a complicated Native American story and had them repeat it a series of times. He discovered with each retelling, the story was altered. Bartlett attributed this tendency to the use of schemas. A schema is a generalization formed in the mind based on experience. He concluded the brain tends to fill in the blanks in memory by using imagination and similarities with other memories. 

Can we depend on our memories without questioning, if the information retrieved is not 100% accurate? 

We first need to comprehend how the brain shapes our reality based on our perception. Perception is defined as the recognition and interpretation of the information of our senses. Perception gives meaning to the things we see and allows us to store them. Our state of mind, whether happy, sad or upset are interpretations of reality, which influence how we perceive the events that occur in our lives. 

 

If perception alters how we interpret the world, doesn’t this indicate our memories are faulty?

We must question every experience, every memory, and every feeling entering our minds. 

 

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