Think you have a good memory? Think againBy Melissa L. Blouin • Published: February 6th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
Can you recall what you had for dinner last night? How about your first kiss? Do you remember your third-grade teacher?
All of us have different abilities when it comes to memory. Some people seem to recall every event and every person they ever met. But it turns out that those masters of memory are just as prone to misremembering things as people with shakier recollections of the past.
Some people have what scientists call highly superior autobiographical memory and are able to recall minor details from the distant past. For instance, they can accurately remember daily activities from childhood.
Scientists took 20 people with this superior memory and 38 people with regular memories and asked them to do word association exercises, recall details of photographs depicting a crime and discuss recollections of video footage of the United Flight 93 crash on Sept. 11. Only … there is no video footage from that flight … it does not exist.
The researchers found that people with the highly superior autobiographical memory proved just as vulnerable to false memories as people with average memories.
Scientists have taken false memories a step further by creating a false memory in a mouse brain. They manipulated the brain cells that encode the information formed in a memory by using light to activate brain cells containing memory information. By doing this, they found that the cellular events involved in forming the false memory closely mimic the processes that form a real memory. This may explain why false memories fell so real.
So even if you think you remember every detail of some horrible event in your life, just remember to take those memories with a grain of salt. They may not be exactly what you thought they were.