Research, Technology

How memory distorts memories seconds after the event

Our memory is known to distort somewhatpast events, even if it is very good. After some time, we may forget or confuse some details. But how long does it take our memory to distort information? It is generally accepted that "failures" occur in long-term memory. That is, the information is distorted after a few days, months or even years. However, according to a recent study, memory generates incorrect events just a few seconds after the event. That is, even short-term memory distorts information. This phenomenon has even received a special name - the illusion of short-term memory. Because of this effect, we can misperceive not only our own past, but also the present.

The illusion of short-term memory manifests itself as a distortion in the memories of events that occurred a few seconds ago.

How short-term memory distorts events

According to scientists, short-term memory is notalways correctly remembers the events that just happened. It is influenced by our expectations. Simply put, we remember what we want to see, not what we actually see. Such results were shown by a study in which more than 500 volunteers took part.

The researchers showed the participants in the experimenta set of letters arranged in a circle that they had to memorize. Then the letters disappeared, and a frame appeared in a certain place of the circle. Participants of the experiment had to remember which letter was in place of the frame. In addition, some of the letters in the circle were inverted (mirrored). Therefore, the volunteers also had to remember how the letter was inscribed in the circle - correctly or in a mirror image.

The participants in the experiment were more likely to make mistakes when they answered a few seconds after the event (showing letters)

Sometimes, before the participants in the experimentit was necessary to remember this or that letter, they were shown another set of letters. After answering, they were asked to rate how confident they were that they had given the correct answer.

When the volunteers answered in half a second,they were wrong no more than 20% of the time. But when you had to answer after three seconds, the error rate increased to 30%. Then the participants in the experiment, who correctly recalled the letter and were confident in their answer, were asked to remember how the letter was written. In 37% of cases, volunteers said that it was displayed correctly, that is, it was not upside down, although in fact it was not. Moreover, the volunteers were informed in advance that some letters would be mirrored.

Our brain remembers information based on experience and beliefs of a person.

What is the illusion of memory

To get more accurate results,the researchers conducted an additional experiment, which attracted almost 350 more volunteers who did not take part in the first experiment. A new group of people showed the same tendency - they remembered the letters in their usual position, although they saw them mirrored. It should be noted that in all experiments it was the position of the letter that was the most common mistake. Moreover, the later the participants in the experiment were asked to remember the position of the letter, the more often they incorrectly remembered it. The researchers reported this in the journal PLOS One.

What are these results related to?According to scientists, this suggests that memory retains information based on experience, that is, through the prism of existing ideas. In this case, the volunteers had an idea of ​​how the letter should look. When they saw a misspelled letter, the brain itself corrected the “mistake”. Thus, the brain cuts off information that does not correspond to our ideas about the world.

The brain creates a reality for us, which is sometimes a little different from reality.

Research has shown that these adjustmentsmemory in accordance with beliefs sometimes occurs with minimal delay. But, the most interesting thing is that with beliefs, our brain also often deceives us. We have already discussed in detail how this happens. This once again proves that the brain carefully creates a reality for us, which sometimes differs from reality. Why this happens, you can find out by clicking on the second link.

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However, after the results of the studymore questions arose. For example, why do people make mistakes in some cases and not in others? And why does it depend at all? To answer some of them, scientists plan to conduct additional studies in the near future. Finally, we note that the brain not only changes information in accordance with our beliefs and desires, but also creates visual illusions. For example, for this reason, adults sometimes see ghosts.