Thursday, September 17, 2009


I guess we like to think we remember things, but maybe we mis-remember them better?

I played in a corporate band challenge about 5 months back and recently watched a video of that performance. Alot of the performance was kindof like I remembered, but then there was the judging section at the end (kindof like American Idol) where a panel of local celebs and music industry people evaluated our performance. I sortof remembered the general theme what they said, but on rewatching the video I realize my mind had stored several of the comments quite a bit differently. I think the process of replaying the comments in my head after the performance may have gradually changed my memory of the comments themselves. (Like the game where you line up a bunch of people and whisper a story into one person's ear, and they whisper to their neighbor, and so on.... When you get to the end the story may have changed quite a bit just through the retelling.)

I've seen quite a few studies about how memories of an event can easily evolve over time to become considerably different than what actually occurred, but here's a very interesting study that shows that in some cases you can actually come to believe the exact opposite of something you directly experienced. Here researchers doctored a videotape of test subjects and successfully convinced 40% of them that something happened that didn't. Basically the researchers showed that we can be led to completely abandon real memories and replace them with fake memories. And get this - many of the test subjects were so convinced of the new fake memory that they would say they'd testify that the fake memory was the actual truth...

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