The Echoes of the Mind (65) Reliability


Memory, of all the powers of the mind, is the most delicate and frail. ~ English playwright Ben Jonson

As an efficient evolutionary mechanism, memory is a sketch of salient features: details that were incidental at the time quickly fade, if they were remembered at all.

Just because we’ve seen something many times doesn’t mean we remember it or even notice it. It might be a good thing not to burden your memory with information that is not relevant to you. ~ American psychologist Alan Castel

Our memories are cluttered with similar events. Their overlap easily creates blurs between episodes.

Recalling a specific episode is influenced by competition from similar or overlapping instances. Discriminating to the intended memory requires identifying something unique within the context of the memory.

We reconstruct our emotional past in a way that’s consistent with the way we currently are emotionally reacting. ~ American psychologist William Hirst

Memory is far from an accurate snapshot. Recall may be unreliable. Even memories of painful events are readily distorted as to what was endured; yet details that may not have been appreciated at the time may be available with attentive mental prodding, being careful not to introduce false memory via suggestion.

Memories aren’t static. Memory can endure for decades yet also can change to maintain relevance. ~ American cognitive scientist Donna Jo Bridge

The bases for empirical memories are perceptions that occurred at the time of an event. These include mind perceptions and other subjective interpretations which may be the most important takeaway for a person involved, even as they are not factual in an evidentiary sense. In that emotions invoke memory intensity these impressions may override what actually occurred from the perspective of a more disinterested observer.

We used to think the memories we had were pictures of the original event. Now we know that it is the last version of the memory, because each time we retrieve it, it changes a little bit. ~ American cognitive scientist Daniela Schiller

Memory is designed to help us make good decisions in the moment and, therefore, memory has to stay up to date. The information that is relevant right now can overwrite what was there to begin with. ~ American cognitive scientist Joel Voss

Memories are not simple snapshots from the past, but reconstructed representations biased by personal knowledge and world views. Sometimes we even remember events that never actually happened. Memories change when we repeatedly retrieve them, becoming more abstract and gist-like with each retrieval. ~ Spanish psychologist Juan Linde-Domingo

The adaptive purpose of memory is to guide decisions and inform the present. To meet that need, memories may be revised with each recall.

If you remember something in the context of a new environment and time, or if you are even in a different mood, your memories might integrate the new information. ~ Donna Jo Bridge

Over time, cumulative updates via recall and insertion of new relevant information can so alter a memory that it is no longer an accurate representation of its inception. The veracity of a memory can become more false than true.

Our memories can change even if we don’t realize they have changed. ~ American psychologist Daniel Simons

Nostalgia is a seductive liar. ~ American diplomat George Ball