False memories, or when memory plays tricks on us

Memory is fragile, and our hurting mind is capable of making false memories that are just as meaningful as true ones. A trap can also come in handy…

I remember, so I know who I am. What could be more powerful than our intimate memories, arranged in the back of our brain? What could be more certain than these vivid scenes that can be remembered in the present at any time? Warning, trap. Very unreliable, our memory hides enormous traps, disguised elements, impossible to detect: false memories. In his latest collegiate book Our mother’s diaryAuthor Lawrence Campa talks about her Vietnamese grandmother. “I thought for a long time that in his Parisian drawing-room, there was a huge altar to the ancestorsas you say. When I went to Vietnam, I smelled the incense in the temples, I recognized the smell of my grandmother’s sitting room. But my aunt explained to me that this altar never existed, and my asthmatic grandmother did not burn incense … “

How can intruders infiltrate our memory? Professor Pascal Roulet, a neuroscientist at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, explains how to use them: “When you’re recording information, it spends a few minutes in short-term memory, before activating memory consolidation. This mechanism, which lasts ten to twelve hours, fixes the memory. Once it’s stable, it goes into long-term memory, which is managed by the hippocampus.” It stays there for three to four years, and then the anterior cingulate cortex takes over for long-term memory.” In the few minutes before the merge, the memory is being built “weak, fickle”it can be changed by interruption, other information, feeling, etc.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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