Busting the memory myths

Most people think they know how memories work and this can have serious consequences if you’re depending on the accuracyof what you remember.

Photographic memories

Wouldn’t it be good if you could take a snapshot of a place, or the page of a book and commit it to memory? Many ‘memory gurus’ have claimed to do just so, however, it is more likely that they have committed the memory using techniques such as mnemonics (where a rhyme or sequence is used as a memory aid) and may hours of practice.

Memory confidence

It is often said that the more confident someone is about a memory recollection then the more likely it is to be accurate. While some people do have an aptitude for remembering details, it is more likely that the confidence stems from being asked about a memory time and time again. If you repeat something often enough, it is possible you will convince yourself of its accuracy.

Fading memories

Memories of events are believed to fade gradually, however, most forgetting occurs immediately after an event and those memories you do hold on to are usually very precious.

Who am I?

If you can’t remember who you are, it’s not because you have amnesia! It’s a common misconception that amnesiacs forget who they are due to losing their long-term memory when amnesia actually restricts the ability to have new memories. For example, an illness or injury which results in amnesia will usually mean that the sufferer will not be able to remember what they had for breakfast, or what was in that day’s newspaper, but they will be able to tell you stories of how they are and what they have achieved.

I can see clearly…

People often think that the memories they replay in their minds eye are an accurate reflection of what happened and that the memory has recorded them as a video camera would. Memories are in fact manipulated by suggestion and creative licence.

Do you have your own memory myth? Or what is the earliest memory you can recall?