False memories: why we experience tricks of the mind
When we remember what something 'should' look like, we will often construct a memory to fit the mould.
False memories can also happen to groups and could lead to mass delusions. People were shown a fake CCTV footage of a shop robbery and discussed what they’d seen. One of the participants introduced false ideas: the thief had a gun, right? Three in four people later recounted these fabricated ‘facts’ when questioned.
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Memory is essentially an activation of neural networks inside the brain, which are dynamic in nature.
We can form memories as infants, but we do not have the ability to store them until we are at least two years of age. It is also a fact that we cannot remember being babies. According to studies, if we have early memories of us being infants, it is likely that they are fabricated memories.
We all can form complex false memories in us, and it can even impact our decision making and future behavior. Planting false memories in a person can be used to tackle certain disorders like obesity and alcoholism.
Memory researchers have concluded that it is possible to induce fictional memories of the past in volunteers and even make them believe in some past criminal deeds that never happened.
False memories are a challenge in legal cases, as they are indistinguishable from real memories, with any distortion being undetectable.
Certain regression therapies where patients confront their buried childhood memories are prone to ‘implantation’ of false memories in their minds.
There’s emerging evidence that ordinary medications - from paracetamol to antihistamines, statins, asthma medications, and antidepressants - can change our brains. They can make us impulsive, angry, or restless, and even alter aspects of our personalities.
In most people, changes from taking medicine are extremely subtle. But in some, they can also be dramatic.
Rituals give us a feeling of going beyond the ordinary, of turning events into something special and meaningful. And shared rituals are essential to humanity, as they provide us all with a sense of meaning as well as belonging o a group.
Despite the social distancing measures, rituals can still be kept, even though at distance and not as strong as when they are established through face-to-face interactions.
While going through difficult times, we are all losing, more or less, the shared rituals we used to have with others. But that is not actually such a bad thing.
Instead of thinking about what was lost, we could think about what we still have and figure out ways to make the most of the time spent at home, like staying more with our family or getting in touch again with old friends by calling them.
It’s not that difficult to create rituals online. Focus on: