Can I trust my mem­o­ries?

iD magazine - - Body & Mind -

“We cre­ate our mem­o­ries our­selves. They do not nec­es­sar­ily cor­re­spond with what has hap­pened be­fore in the out­side world,” ex­plains neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist and mem­ory re­searcher Hans Markowitsch. As part of a study at West­ern Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity in Belling­ham, Wash­ing­ton, stu­dents were sur­veyed about mem­o­ries from child­hood. Each of the par­tic­i­pants was pre­sented with sev­eral real and one fic­ti­tious event. Dur­ing the first in­ter­view none of the study sub­jects could re­call the fic­ti­tious event. But in a sec­ond in­ter­view 20% re­called de­tails of this fab­ri­cated in­ci­dent, and some even men­tioned names of peo­ple who were al­legedly present. Rea­son: If some­thing is pre­sented to us vividly, as it was in the study, it blurs the line be­tween fic­tion and re­al­ity: “Then it be­comes pos­si­ble for you to store the oc­cur­rence as a gen­uine rec­ol­lec­tion with­out hav­ing ac­tu­ally ex­pe­ri­enced the event,” says le­gal psy­chol­o­gist Gün­ter Kohnken.

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