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The Science Behind False Memories and How They Form

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Factors that influence false memories include misinformation and misattribution “of the original source of the information”; these false memories can be created or altered through an overwhelming emotional response to something that affects the memory in question. In order to fully understand the concept of false memories, I looked at the science and the formation of memories that leads from the true events to the perceived event.

Every now and then, it is easy to forget something, like house keys, someone’s name, or an important date, but when it comes to important events to life, such as a childhood memory, are we sure that our memories are trustworthy?

According to Very Well Mind, “human perception isn’t perfect. Sometimes we see things that aren’t there and miss obvious things that are right in front of us. In many cases, false memories form because the information is not encoded correctly in the first place. For example, a person might witness an accident but not have a clear view of everything that happened.”

Memories and experiences tend to compete with newer information, so there are arguments that older memories interfere or alter the new memories. This leads to new information making it difficult to remember previously stored information, therefore, creating holes and gaps in our memories, causing the brain to try filling it in with pieces of information that may not have been real.

For example, certain events in your memory can be influenced through media coverage and stories. This can lead to the brain adjusting a specific memory, bringing up past situations and linking it up to current affairs.

If you are interested in reading more about the psychology behind memories, then read “Speaking of Psychology: How memory can be manipulated”:

https://www.apa.org/news/podcasts/speaking-of-psychology/memory-manipulated