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For example, Reyna's research found that gist memory helps people make healthier decisions in terms of risk taking. If we went through life only looking at things objectively in a black-and-white sense, we might see things mathematically, and go for the highest expected value every time. The Allais paradox — a choice problem designed by Maurice Allais in — helps explain this. From an economic perspective, if you do all the maths, the highest expected value is actually Gamble B. But that doesn't mean most people go for it. It's not about maximising the money, it's about looking at these categorical possibilities.

Just like the gist drives your memory for the words in the word test. Reyna said that false memories can make people concerned about the way they see the world, but they shouldn't think of it this way. Rather than thinking of imperfect memory being a negative impact of ageing, it's more likely to be something that actually helps us make safer, more informed choices. So it's not that memory is this stable accurate record all the time. We just have that illusion because our minds fill in the gaps.

Gist memory is another way our brains have shown how good they are at adapting to our surroundings. That's not to say the idea of losing your memory as a result of dementia is any less scary, but until that point, it isn't something you should necessarily worry about. They were never really fully intact to begin with. World globe An icon of the world globe, indicating different international options. Search icon A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search".

Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Lindsay Dodgson. Facebook Icon The letter F. Email icon An envelope. It indicates the ability to send an email. Link icon An image of a chain link. It symobilizes a website link url. Twitter icon A stylized bird with an open mouth, tweeting. And memories are something I hold of more value than facebook! I found "The Memory Illusion" to be an enjoyable as well as a humbling read. It was a sobering revelation coming to terms with the fact that our memories are undeniably flawed and subject to being "hacked".

What I enjoyed most about the book is that it's all based on science and research with a full bibliography. Shaw explains in full--and entertainingly I might add--detail what false memories are and how they impact our lives and society. After finishing this book I wanted to buy a copy for I found "The Memory Illusion" to be an enjoyable as well as a humbling read. After finishing this book I wanted to buy a copy for everyone I knew, it's really that informative.

I was particularly enthralled by all the studies on memory and the biology of the brain dendrites, synapses, memory blocking proteins I am also a relatively slow reader yet I finished the book within a week. Also, Never Eat Soggy Weiners. Jan 08, Suncerae rated it liked it. Our collections of memories make us who we are. They are the basis for self-identity, the sum of all of our life experiences.

Julia Shaw, memory expert and forensic psychologist, actually creates false memories in healthy unsuspecting college students. Using current research, she shows just how often ou Our collections of memories make us who we are. Using current research, she shows just how often our memories are led astray from the truth. The Memory Illusion uses broad strokes to touch on the social science of current memory research alongside anecdotes of human studies or criminal court cases.

While I really like parts of book, much of it is slow and occasionally too basic. I find the specifics of the social studies most interesting, as they are the strongest evidence of just how easy it is to not only convince an adult they committed a crime as teenager, but that they in fact begin to recall details of the incident in subsequent sessions, eventually appropriating the memory completely. Even more unnerving are the real-world examples of court convictions because of one passionate confession or police officers who ignore facts because they do not fit with an impressionable memory or stereotype.

If someone asks you if you can remember something, say no. All of our memories are a mix of reality and rational interpretation, with details that change every time you remember that memory. But take heart, because even though our brains are highly constantly reworking those memories, they are also constantly learning. Plus, you get to live in a reality you can write. Recommended as a pop culture memory nonfiction for anyone who prides themselves on their memory! This book draws together many different lines of memory research, including studies of false memories, cognitive biases, flashbulb memories.

Shaw is not only a memory researcher herself, but also a criminal psychologist. The book does lead us to question our own histories and raises some fascinating questions about our constructions of reality. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator, Siri Steinmo, was just wonderful. I usually prefer books read by the author for they are much more likely to sound like someone talking to me than someone reading to me. But this one is an exception. A fascinating read or listen!

I could tell that the Julia Shaw made an effort to avoid too many medical jargon. Trying her best to make sure that the content of the book wasn't too dry, at times having intriguing anecdotes. It's just a small gripe. Apr 10, Adam Osth rated it liked it. I'm biased because I study memory for a living. With that being said, I was surprised at how much I learned while reading this book, especially during the neuroscience chapter, which talked about some really interesting recent developments in optogenetics.

On the other hand, the book didn't seem to have much of a coherent thesis. It talked about various ways that people have false memories but didn't really talk about theories that actually explain these phenomena. Speaking as a cognitive scienti I'm biased because I study memory for a living. Speaking as a cognitive scientist, many of these phenomena are readily explained by current models of memory and understanding the theoretical basis can make these phenomena much less mysterious.

Interesting and fascinating, very informative and opinion changing. However, for me, one point was being discarded too much, and that is how childhood memories which we might not remember actively neither be able to recover, I agree on that point could still influence our adult life cue: attachment theory.

Apart from that, I enjoyed that the writer clearly expressed her opinion based on her research, while still also explaining theories that exist but to which she does not adhere. Refreshing Interesting and fascinating, very informative and opinion changing. Refreshing openness. I certainly understand now even more than before, that memories can lead astray, that false memories are possible and can even be created on purpose.

C. J. Brainerd and V. F. Reyna

I have also understood to cherish the way my brain is working, with its faults and traps, while being aware not to trust it too much, especially when I feel absolutely sure about something. To bring you to an acceptance that all of us have critically flawed memories is the very reason I wrote this book. Jan 05, Simone Beg rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction.

I kind of expected the reviews for this to be a mixed bag with a topic that is so emotional to many people. After all most people strongly believe their memories to be facts and that their memories are what makes up a large chunk of their personalities. To put the accuracy of memories in general into question is bound to stir up some heated emotions. Personally I fall somewhere in the middle.

Could the author convince me in every single aspect of her reasoning? But do I feel I learned a lot I kind of expected the reviews for this to be a mixed bag with a topic that is so emotional to many people. But do I feel I learned a lot of things and gained quite some insight into recent research that I didn't have before? People need to remember that this is not the end of all discussion about memory research. It is an argument put forward with often very strong supportive scientific findings, but you can be sure as research progresses you will see dozens of equally well supported counter arguments or otherwise differing views.

Again, can a layman learn a lot from this book, yes. Do you have to take it as written in stone facts that have no chance of getting reconsidered when presented with new evidence, no. So for what it is, I'm giving it 5 stars. You can easily finish it in days. It's a worthwhile and quite entertaining read Jan 23, Michael rated it it was amazing. Julia Shaw successfully destroys our confidence in our memories. There is so much poignant and practical information in here, especially for anyone in sociology or criminology fields, or just anyone who interacts with humans.

If you think you have a good memory, or that people who make up stories must be lying, or you think that eye-witness accounts are the most reliable form of evidence, this book will change your perspective. Fortunately I never had a great memory a Amazing Fortunately I never had a great memory anyway. My only gripe is that some of the studies cited seemed less than comprehensive or conclusive, but the overall message of the book was clearly supported by her supporting research.

A drastic job change exposed memory issues I wanted to understand better. Here I found that. Although Dr. Having just finished the book, I now plan to reread some of those foundational chapters. The final chapter A drastic job change exposed memory issues I wanted to understand better. The final chapter provided some useful information I plan to use in further exploring my newfound interest in memory.

And it explains thedress. Dec 21, Camio. Dontchaknow rated it liked it. Funnily enough I don't remember much but happy to go through it again. Jul 03, Kirstin rated it really liked it.

See a Problem?

So interesting and left me questioning what was real in my life!! Some parts were interesting, but I didn't like the Audible narrator. I found her reading flat. The contents didn't completely make up for it. Jun 13, Bernie Gourley rated it really liked it Recommends it for: those interested in false memories and the implanting thereof. This disparity has played a major role in many a miscarriage of justice with eye-witnesses historically being considered the gold standard of evidence in criminal trials.

This sets up the whole subject nicely because one must ask how so many people can claim to remember events that are physiologically impossible for them to have remembered, and to frequently be right about most key details. No one is suggesting that such people are liars not all — or even most -- of them, anyway. Imagine a school-age child hearing a story about his or her life as a baby.

Herein lies the crux of false memory: 1.

Chapter two explores perception, and how flawed perceptions may become flawed or tarnished memories. Therefore, the limitations and inaccuracies of the mental model are the first line of deviation of memory from reality. Chapter four begins a series of chapters that take on specific objections that will arise to the ideas about false memory presented in the early chapters.

This chapter counters an anticipated objection about people who seem to have perfect memories. Surely, these rare cases disprove the general idea of how memory works. Shaw shows that none of these people have perfect memory. Some have spectacular autobiographical memory memory for their own life events and others are exceedingly skilled at using mnemonic devices to remember any facts, but they all have limits.

We forget for good reason. Chapter five examines another common memory fallacy, which is that one can remember best by getting the middleman of the consciousness mind out of the way and feeding data directly into the subconscious. In other words, it takes on subliminal learning. Like every program that promises growth without effort, this one is debunked. I will say, the book fell off the rails for me a bit during this chapter.

As I wrote in a recent blog post about psychological concepts that even psychologists repeatedly get wrong, Shaw denies the existence of hypnotic trance state as an altered state of consciousness. She writes in an odd, round-about fashion on this subject as well as the topic of brainwashing — for which she offers her own value-laden definition. I can only imagine the hoops she had to go through to get her research design through an IRB. After a series of famous -- and ethically questionable -- studies by the likes of Stanley Milgrim, Ewen Cameron, and Timothy Leary, to name a few, psychology has come under great scrutiny.

Chapter six asks why we believe our memories are so awesome despite all evidence to the contrary. This comes down to why most of us unjustifiably judge ourselves superior in most regards. As is true of drivers, almost every person thinks she is better than average in the realm of memory. Chapter eight discusses how media and social media mold memories. One element of this is group-think. This chapter also takes on how social media influences memory as a distraction and because of so-called digital amnesia in which people remember less because they figure they can look it up at any time in the vastness of the internet.

The chapter focuses on a series of Satanic ritual sexual abuse cases, a number of which were eventually disproved. So eager to build a case to bring believed wrong-doers to justice, law enforcement officers sometimes inadvertently pressured children into making up stories under the guise of trying to get them to open up, stories that sometimes became false memories.

This is valuable information and not just for legal purposes but for life in general. The book has a few graphics as necessary throughout the book and has end-notes to provide sources and elaboration on comments in the text. I found this book to be immensely valuable as food-for-thought. The author presents many fascinating stories and the results of intriguing research studies, all in a readable package. Nov 17, Hans rated it it was amazing. This is a great book to understand memory and how impacts your world. In , Lang developed a nonverbal pictographic measure for the subjective evaluation of valence and the arousal, the Self-Assessment Manikin SAM [ 13 ].

The SAM has the purpose of evaluating more objectively the affective dimensions of stimuli, used in studies on motivation, attention, and memory. At this task, usually, a stimulus that causes emotional reactions with low levels of valence is classified as negative, with medium levels as neutral, and with high levels as positive. Likewise, for the arousal, low-level stimuli are described as relaxing, with medium levels as non-stimulating and with high levels such as arousal.

Words and photographs classified as being of negative or positive valence present stimulating arousal level and are more likely to be correctly retrieved than similar stimuli classified as neutral and not stimulant [ 14 ]. Additionally, some studies have suggested that the arousal reinforces the encoding of central aspects of a stimulus through unintentional attention mechanisms while at the same time tends to decrease the encoding of peripheral details of stimuli [ 15 ].

For example, looking at a photo of an accident between two cars on a highway, people tend to remember more the central and significant aspects of the event e. Sometimes these circumstances facilitate the false memory formation once some peripheric details could not be well encoded and may be re-encoded in a wrong way and falsely retrieved in the future. Several studies have shown that episodes that contain emotional relevance have a greater probability of being remembered than those that do not contain it: so, there are advantages in the retrieval of stimuli classified as stimulants compared to non-stimulating stimuli.

The emotion promotes better encoding of the memory trace due to greater rehearsal, attention, and elaboration that it provides [ 17 ]. The amygdala is the primary orchestrator of emotional memory without which the emotional effects in memory do not occur. The amygdala is responsible for the incremental effect of emotion in declarative memory [ 18 ]. The amygdala affects the memory, whether in encoding as in storage, modulating, or increasing the activity of other brain regions, such as the hippocampus.

Implanting False Memories

On the other hand, the hippocampus influences the responses of the amygdala when emotional stimuli are involved [ 19 ]. A case study of a patient who had bilateral lesion of the amygdala related that he did not enjoy the typical benefit of emotion in increasing the memory for images of positive or negative emotional content [ 20 ].

There are two main effects of emotion in explicit memory, both mediated by the amygdala: effect at the time of encoding , including increased attention and elaboration, and the post-encoding effect that includes the release of cortisol and increased consolidation of memory trace. At the time of memory consolidation , the hormones released in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, under the influence of the amygdala, act in the hippocampus assisting the storage of stimuli, making them more resistant to forgetting and interference.

In this way, it facilitates retrieval [ 22 ]. Emotional valence can affect explicit memory through its influence on the activity of the adeno-pituitary gland, modifying the release of stress hormones that interact with the amygdala. The modulation effect of emotional valence, through the amygdala action, acts specifically in the areas of memory consolidation such as the hippocampus.

Studies have shown that the amygdala and hippocampus systems are independent. For example, one of these studies used the fear-conditioning paradigm where the emergence of a blue square on the screen is halted with a shock to the wrist. Patients with amygdala lesions did not show the normal physiological response of fear of dodging the shock, although they reported that they knew that the blue square preceded the same.

How False Memories Are Formed

That is, the prediction of what was going to occur, that is, the event itself, was intact, because it depends on the hippocampus, while the emotional link does not. Patients with damage to the hippocampus showed an opposite pattern [ 23 ]. There is evidence that the activation of the amygdala can be modulated by attention. Other important anatomical areas activated during emotional memory processing are the anterior cingulate cortex, nucleus accumbens, septum, ventral tegmental area, insula, somatosensory cortex, and brainstem.

A study of functional neuroimaging demonstrated a correlation between the activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, emotion, and attention [ 25 ]. In , Bush and collaborators published a review that cites several studies that evidence the involvement of the anterior cingulate cortex in a circuit involving attention in the regulation of cognitive and emotional processes [ 26 ]. Evidence suggests that this area is activated during the perception of emotion, affection, and pain, during the symptoms of post-traumatic disorder and the detection of errors [ 26 , 27 ]. It is also suggested that it is the key substrate for emotional awareness and the central representation of the autonomic arousal.

These neuroimaging studies involving various types of emotional stimuli have determined the affective subdivision of the anterior cingulate cortex. It seems that this area is activated when the subject must monitor conflicts between the functional state of the organism and any new information that has relevant affective and emotional consequences. When such conflicts are detected, the areas of the anterior cingulate cortex project to the prefrontal cortex and nuclei of the base where options for responses will be evaluated.

The prefrontal cortex plays an important role in emotion feedback; particularly, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is active when decisions need to be made based on the emotional properties of the stimuli [ 30 ]. Generally, behavioral choices that require decision-making are influenced by the immediate affective consequence of a situation e. In these situations, regions of the left prefrontal cortex are active when the target is related to appetitive situations, while the right prefrontal cortex is activated in negative [ 28 , 29 ].

True memory is the real retrieval of an event of any nature, be it visual, verbal, or otherwise. True memories are constantly being rewritten re-encoding. On the other hand, false memory is defined as the recollection of an event that did not happen or a distortion of an event that indeed occurred.

Otherwise, confabulation is the formation of false memories, perceptions, or beliefs about yourself or the environment because of neurological or psychological dysfunction. During this process, confusion between imagination and memory or even confusion between true memories may occur. Since the past decade, the phenomenon of false memories is drawing attention in the mental health area.

Research in the field of mental health and legal area has suggested that emotion can influence the production of false memories. Some studies have indicated that certain psychotherapeutic techniques which are based on the retrieval of emotional memories in children can produce vivid memories of events that have not really occurred, for example, alleged cases of sexual violence suffered during childhood [ 30 ]. The memory of these children can be reconfigured in the wrong way. The relationship between the emotion and the production of false memories, however, is difficult to test with autobiographical memories since a detailed comparison between the information retrieved and details of the original event is practically unfeasible [ 16 , 32 ].

False memories can also occur in the ordinary day-to-day life not necessarily in pathological or traumatic situations. False memories are a consequence of how memories are built in the brain. Since the pioneering studies of Milner and her colleagues [ 33 ] on H.

Our brains sometimes create 'false memories' — but science suggests we could be better off this way

What was thought to be unique engrams of lived experiences has since then been broken down in a series of pieces that must be joined together to give rise to the experience of retrieving memories. Each one of these pieces is acquired with different codes and stored in different locations in the brain, depending on the different contexts in which they were obtained and in which they are recollected later. That is, the retrieval operation depends on the external and internal conditions at encoding and at retrieval.

Memory cues remind details of the input occasion and are a necessary condition to the retrieval. Other external inputs like feelings, thoughts, and the motivational state are also very important for a true retrieval but sometimes may be not like the original situation. In agreement with the conception that memory is composed of several systems, Brainerd and Reyna [ 34 ] proposed the fuzzy-trace theory FTT.

According to FTT, episodic memory consists of two independent and parallel subsystems called the literal system and essence. These two subsystems encode information in the form of different representations, constituting literal memory and memory of essence. While literal memory stores the specific and detailed traits of the episodes, the essence memory stores the nonspecific sense, e.

For the FTT, true memories are mostly due to the retrieval of literal memories. False memories, therefore, would be arising from the retrieval of memories of essence [ 35 ]. Traditionally, false memories have been investigated through various types of experimental procedures that enhance their occurrence, using materials such as slides, films, and sentences.

In the last decade, a widespread methodology is the list of associated words. This procedure, known by the acronym DRM, was developed by Roediger and McDermott [ 36 ] based on previous studies done by Deese many years before DRM consists of lists of words that are presented to be memorized study phase and later recognized test phase. For this, standardized verbal stimuli word lists with neutral and emotional content positive and negative are adopted in a way to evaluate if the recognition was true or false, even if it is familiar or not. This method of organizing stimuli into thematically related sets was inspired by the previous research with words, which produced robust false recognition effects see item 3.

Thus, when reading the words in the study phase, people encode the target words through literal representations specific and detailed characteristics, e. In the test phase, people recall or recognize the target words true memory by retrieving the literal and essence traces but recall or recognize the critical words false memory through retrieval only of essence traces.

FTT has been widely used in interpreting results from research using the DRM procedure, for example, in studies that evaluated the effects of triazolam and scopolamine in the production of false memories for neutral words [ 38 , 39 ]. In recognition tasks, in which the participants must distinguish items whose presentations are episodically remembered from those that seemed to be merely familiar that means they do not have a full memory.

They recognize stimuli words or images previously presented study phase in a list that includes items that have not been presented before recognition phase. Current models of recognition memory consider that recognition involves both familiarity and recollection. Familiarity seems to operate more quickly than the recollection, being defined as a quick decision of recognition.

The classification of stimuli in different emotional dimensions is also necessary, because some studies have shown that valence and the arousal influence the indexes of retrieval through different cognitive processes and neural mechanisms [ 42 , 43 ].