Why Do Our Memories Change?

Posted on February 11, 2017

Photo: flickr

We usually don't have distinct memories for mundane things and events, like what we had for dinner a week ago or how we celebrated our birthday ten years ago. Yet for memories of distinct events, like the 911 terrorist attack, could you recall where you were or what you were doing? Sure, but researchers say that it might only be about 50% accurate.

Emotions have a great influence on our memories. When something is memorable, usually it is something of high emotional value, whether it be happiness or fear. Liza Phelps, a psychology professor from New York University, explains our emotions can actually change how well we recall things and events. When we try to remember something, our mind goes through a process called consolidation where it retrieves pieces of information and rebuilds the memory. Unfortunately, new pieces of information can interfere with this process and what we recall can be altered!

Watch the full video in the link below to listen to Phelps' full explanation of how malleable our memories can be.

Source material from Scientific American