The boundaries of human memory are well known to psychologists. However, many of us tend to underestimate their ability to deceive us.
1) It is impossible to remember the first few years of life … but many believe they can
"I suppose my readers do not remember at all, or remember very vaguely, the extremely important period of their existence that preceded the birth, and which went into the womb," wrote Salvador Dali in his memoirs. "But I, yes, I remember this period as if it had been yesterday".
Dalí hoped that his own memories of the "divine paradise" would help others restore those moments of life that were lost before birth.
In fact, Dali's memories were almost certainly the result of his huge imagination. Today's researchers believe it is impossible to remember the first few years of life, and that the time before birth must also be a mental goal.
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Many of the brain constructions needed memory they are not finished with it then, which means It is psychologically impossible that early childhood personal events are kept in adulthood. Instead, some memories of this stage are illusions or "false memories", patched and unified from other experiences or knowledge that we bought later in life.
2) Your memory may depend on the temperature
Psychologists say that human memory is "context-dependent". To understand what this means, consider an experiment where participants were asked to dip their hands in an ice water bucket – a significant unpleasant experience – and then remember a glossary.
Later, after some tests, the researchers saw that the memory of the participants was improved if they reached another bath of ice water.
As a result, the study showed it We remember the facts better if we recreate subtle environmental or psychological conditions that there was a moment when the memories were recorded, even though they seem to be irrelevant.
This is one of the reasons why the events of a night of perfection are easier to remember by drinking some beers, but difficult to evoke when sober.
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As Julia Shaw points out a psychologist at University College London in her book Memory Illusion (The Illusion of Memory), a strategy can be Use these psychological joints to your advantage. People who chew gum or drink coffee while studying will remember more if they do the same at the time of the exam.
The smells can also be evocative, so another strategy you can use is to apply a particular perfume or cologne that you associate with the evaluation.
3) Your mental timeline is distorted
Take a moment to guess the month and year where the following events happened:
(a) Michael Jackson's death
(b) The release of Beyonce's musical album, Lemonade
(c) Oscar's infamous confusion, when La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner of the best movie.
(d) Angela Merkel's announcement that she will resign as German Chancellor in 2021.
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Unless you are unusual in line with the news cycle, your answers are likely to be completely wrong and you could have followed a recognizable pattern.
Research has shown it We often underestimate the time that has elapsed since an event that occurred long ago (like Michael Jackson's death) and We overestimate the time that has elapsed since a recent event occurred (like Angela Merkel's announcement).
This phenomenon is known as "temporary shift", where your mental timeline is distorted and does not match the actual chronology.
The actual dates are: (a) June 2009, (b) April 2016, (c) February 2017 and (d) October 2018.
4) It is an advantage to have vague memories …
Try to draw your best friend's portrait of the heart. Or without looking at a picture, describe it as much as possible. Unless you have prospagnosia (facial blindness), you will probably be able to give a good description of its general characteristics just to realize that some specific features – even if something is as fundamental as your eyes – are difficult to down.
This is an example of how We tend to remember the essence of things rather than the specifics. And this is not necessarily a disadvantage.
The small details of the face often change on a daily basis, but the general record or essence remains the same – which means you can still recognize a friend with different lighting or a haircut. (It should be noted that not even the memory of our own looks is very precise, And we tend to remember our face as more attractive than it really is).
5) … but the conviction of the accuracy of the memory comes at a price.
If you try to draw or describe your face, you probably think you remember a lot more than you can really evoke. Many studies have shown it Most people think their memory is better than that itdthe average, When this of course would be a statistical impossibility.
We tend to waste, and then forget, times that our memory has failed us, and we prefer to remember all the times that it worked successfully. And then, the next time we have to judge its accuracy, we assume our memory will be accurate.
It is a serious problem for agents by the police, For example, if the belief in the accuracy of their memories can be weighted in a criminal case and can also be the weakness of students who overestimate the amount of lessons optimistic.
We also have too much confidence in ours "prospective memory" the ability to remember what we want to do in the future -. And it can have a financial impact.
As Shaw points out, subscription services take advantage of this by offering free access during a trial period, at which automatic charges will be made on your account. Thanks to superfluous trust in the potential memory, many people forget to cancel their subscriptions at the moment when free access ends
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As Shaw points out, subscription services can benefit from this by offering a free trial for a limited period, after which automatic payments are made from your account. Thanks to superfluous trust in the possible memory, many people forget to cancel the subscription at the moment the free trial ends.
6) You can suffer from digital memory loss
The ubiquity of smartphones can be a major drawback to our memory. Just think for a moment of all the events that are stored in your Facebook and Instagram posts – which constantly offer a wave of reminders to help us keep them in mind. But social networks also have the potential distort our memories of events past.
One of the reasons this phenomenon is known as "oblivion caused by attendance". Today, it is well known that memories become "fragile" when we bring them to our consciousness, and also reveal memories associated with distortion.
As a result, remembering an element of an event can enhance our memory of this detail, but this This leads us to forget about related information that is not actively induced.
It is easy to see how this happens in social networks. For example, a Facebook post that draws attention to a particular image of a wedding may cause you to forget certain aspects of that day. This is particularly problematic given that what we see in social networks has previously been cultivated and healed to present an unrealistic picture of ourselves.
"By allowing social networks to dictate which experiences are most significant of our memories, we may possibly sacrifice memories that are considered less divisible," Shaw writes.
"On the other hand, it also reinforces the collectively selected memories as the best, and thus makes some memories more meaningful and memorable than they originally were."
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