It is natural to wonder about the limits and the possibilities of the human brain. Memory is a well-loved topic in art, literature, and popular science. This is probably why misconceptions and common myths about memory are so widespread.
Common Myths about Memory That You Might Believe
1. Memory is unchanging. Wrong!
As much as we’d like to, we can’t retain memories without changing them. If you want to remember something that’s important to you, it helps to talk about it often. Every time you do, you will unintentionally add or leave out details.
2. Memory is like a recording. Wrong!
These common myths about memory might come from the way that characters remember things in movies – their memories are as vivid as reality. But the truth is that our brain overwrites the details as soon as it records them!
We basically perceive filtered version of the world around us. With time, we lose more and more parts of a memory, and our brain fills in the gaps for us.
3. You will remember the weird details for a long time. Wrong!
If there’s a pink elephant in the room, will you forget about him by next week?
You might think that you’ll remember unexpected events for a long time, even if you weren’t paying attention to them when they happened. However, research shows that we quickly forget about unusual details that weren’t the focus of our attention.
For example, if you’re giving a speech, you may notice a police siren go off in the distance. But because all your attention is fixed on your speech, you’ll probably forget about the siren by the time you’re done.
4. Hypnosis can help you recall everything perfectly. Wrong!
It is true that hypnosis is a way to help you recall things. But while the memories you can bring back with hypnosis are often very detailed, they are not necessarily accurate.
Many common myths about memory overestimate our brain’s ability to record things without changing them. This comes from our subjective experience, as well as from wishful thinking. Sadly, memory is less reliable than we’d like it to be.
When you look back on a past event, keep in mind that you might be forgetting something crucial. Also, don’t be surprised when other people remember things differently.
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Remembering 6 Common Memory Myths. URL link. Accessed 11th November 2017.