Do you know how we all have different memories of the exact same event? It’s a well-known fact that our memories are influenced by our emotions and perception and our brain may not be as reliable as we want it to be. But now, new evidence suggests we should really doubt our recollection of past events as our brains can rewrite the memory to fit our current world.
It seems that the human brain is often playing a memory game. A recent study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience discovers that the mind can actually edit our memories in order to fit them to the present. We think we know what happened and how it happened, but our brain may be lying. In fact, it can insert new things and facts from the present into memories from the past when retrieving them! Researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine studied the brains of 17 men and women with a MRI scanner, showing them 168 objects with different backgrounds. The participants had to study those images and then they were shown new backgrounds. But when asked to put the objects in their original backgrounds, they couldn’t place them correctly. What happened? Basically, the brain mixes the old and the new information, in order to make the memory more relevant to the present.
Study lead author Donna Jo Bridge gives a familiar example of the memory playing tricks on you. Just think of love at first sight – you remember the feeling of affection and amazing euphoria, but in fact, these could be your current feelings projected onto your memory by your brain. Your memories simply adapt to what’s important now, tricking you that your current partner has always been so nice and attractive and you have always loved them. The part of our brain, responsible for this faulty behavior is the hippocampus, which sorts between the present reality and the memory database. It can sometimes cut, reframe, and mix different memories just like a real film editor.
So, next time when you think of your ex, for instance, know that he or she, is not as bad as you think.