Can we trust his memories?

It seems obvious that the moments of life, associated with fear, stress or anger, are remembered best. But this impression is deceptive. Strong emotions create a vivid image in memory, but cut off the details.

Can we trust his memories?

PHOTO Getty Images

Can we trust your memory? In recent decades, psychologists and neuroscientists there are more arguments in favor of the unreliability of this tool. Recollection is inseparable from the emotions associated with the event. On the one hand, emotions help us to save important information. However, recent studies have shown that strong emotions act as a filter that disables the details of the incident, leaving only a bright image. And the more experience, the lower the accuracy of our memories. Such conclusion was made under the direction of Mira Fernandes (Myra Fernandes) 1 a team of cognitive psychology at the University of Waterloo (Canada).

filtering effect is related to the strength and nature of the experiences that a person experiences. Fear, anger, stupor - all reaction to the events that our body perceives as a threat to life. Survival Mode is turned on, and resources are redirected only to the most important tasks. "The brain is trying to fix the main aspects of the experience, sacrificing details - World Fernandez explains. - That was a shock, it is clearly imprinted in our experience, and the rest is not a brain matter. From an evolutionary point of view it is useful. Indeed, such a way of remembering allows the brain to save what can be used as a warning in the future, and thus avoid a repetition of dangerous situations. " Studies tomography revealed that traumatic experiences cause increased agitation in two small areas of the brain, which are collectively referred to as "an adjacent core" (or amygdala). This area is responsible for evaluating the emotional significance of everything that happens to us. When it is activated, the chain reaction occurs in the brain, involving other sites. "Activity in the nucleus accumbens has an effect on the work of other bodies involved in the creation of memory - explains Elizabeth Kensinger (Elizabeth Kensinger), a neuroscientist at Boston College (USA). - Details events as a result can be forgotten and replaced by an arbitrary way. But memories of the core, on the other hand, is more resistant to distortion. "

In general, all of our episodic memories to some extent vulnerable to distortion. They are essentially the only reconstruction of the events collected from the construction of our memories. The more often we are reminded about something, the more likely that the mental image will change from time to time: some "brick" may fall, another will take his place. It happens all the time, but we are, as a rule, do not notice the change. Fernandez draws an analogy with a game of broken telephone. "Every time there is a picture again, it is a little different, although it is the same event for us." The probability of error can affect a variety of factors. Thus, the cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus (Elizabeth Loftus) found that the word "tips" in the conversation may affect the nature and structure of memories, creating false memories. For example, a question with the word "accident" causes an accident witnesses called higher machine speed. This does not mean that our memories do not be relied upon, underlines the World Fernandez. In fact, our brain every day doing a great job on the coding of countless memories. But store information about the most minute detail, he can not, it would be impractical. Therefore, while we sleep, the brain sorts and edits the received information for a day, trying to make room for the new, just as the computer frees up space on your hard disk to burn to get more data. "For our emotional well-being is more important to understand and retain the essence than mechanically fix everything that gets in our focus of attention," - explains the researcher.

See detail. On

website

University of Waterloo.

1 For details, see. Uwaterloo.ca