The rise of Internet search engines like Google has changed the way our brain remembers information, according to research by Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow published July 14 in Science. “Since the advent of search engines, we are reorganizing the way we remember things,” said Sparrow. “Our brains rely on the Internet for memory in much the same way they rely on the memory of a friend, family member or co-worker. We remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found.”...
Tag Archives | Memory
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New research at the Weizmann Institute shows that a bit of social pressure may be all that is needed. The study, which appears in the journal Science, reveals a unique pattern of brain activity when false memories are formed — one that hints at a surprising connection between our social selves and memory.
The experiment, conducted by Prof. Yadin Dudai and research student Micah Edelson of the Institute’s Neurobiology Department with Prof. Raymond Dolan and Dr. Tali Sharot of University College London, took place in four stages. In the first, volunteers watched a documentary film in small groups. Three days later, they returned to the lab individually to take a memory test, answering questions about the film. They were also asked how confident they were in their answers.
They were later invited back to the lab to retake the test while being scanned in a functional MRI (fMRI) that revealed their brain activity.
On the bright side, is it really such a bad thing to be implanted with false memories of, say, dancing with smiling, multicultural nu-ravers while drinking a refreshing Pepsi? Partial Objects explains:
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A newly published study by two marketing professors suggests that advertising can create memories of experiences that never happened, simply by including sufficiently evocative imagery and descriptions in the ad:
Exposure to an imagery-evoking ad can increase the likelihood that consumer mistakenly believes that s/he has experience with the advertised product when in fact s/he does not. Moreover such a false belief produces attitudes that are as strong as attitudes based on true beliefs based on previous product experience, an effect that we label the false experience effect.
Advertising has always been an appeal to a fantasy, and this study seems to suggest that if the ad is created just right, that fantasy can be in the form of a desire to return to a previous wonderful experience (even if the previous experience never actually happened.) But this finding suggests something a bit more insidious.
Neuroscientist David Eagleman hatched an experiment to learn about why our sense of time slows to a crawl in near-death situations (such as a free fall from a significant height). Disappointingly, it’s not because our abilities of perception kick into Matrix-style hyperdrive. NPR reports:
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“Turns out, when you’re falling you don’t actually see in slow motion. It’s not equivalent to the way a slow-motion camera would work,” David says. “It’s something more interesting than that.”
According to David, it’s all about memory, not turbo perception. “Normally, our memories are like sieves,” he says. “We’re not writing down most of what’s passing through our system.” Think about walking down a crowded street: You see a lot of faces, street signs, all kinds of stimuli. Most of this, though, never becomes a part of your memory. But if a car suddenly swerves and heads straight for you, your memory shifts gears. Now it’s writing down everything — every cloud, every piece of dirt, every little fleeting thought, anything that might be useful.
Slate just conducted an interesting experiment in Orwellian-style rewriting of history. Readers were asked to share their their recollections of recent historical events, many of which never actually happened. That didn’t matter though; a large percentage recalled, for instance, how angry they were when Obama infamously shook hands with Ahmadinejad (which he didn’t). The lesson being, if you ask someone to remember something, they will:
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In the first three days the experiment was posted, 5,279 subjects participated. All of the true incidents outscored the false ones. But the fake images were effective. Through random distribution, each fabricated scene was viewed by a subsample of more than 1,000 people. For Obama meeting Ahmadinejad, the number who remembered seeing it was 26 percent. For the Hillary Clinton ad, the number was 36 percent. For the Edwards-Cheney confrontation, it was 42 percent, just seven points shy of the percentage who remembered seeing the DeLay/Schiavo episode.