Can you trust your earliest childhood 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.
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On average, people’s memories stretch back no farther than the age of three and a half.
New science suggests that when we move into adulthood, the brain must let go of much of our childhood.
From birth to our early teens, we have far more links between brain cells. The excess brain mass is very adaptable and allows children to learn very quickly.
But the adaptability comes with a price. The large and complex network in the brain is still busy growing and not as capable of forming memories efficiently as in adulthood. Consequently, long-term memories created in our first three years of life are the least stable and prone to be forgotten as we age.
Eating specific foods which were consumed in our early years can evoke powerful and emotional memories, lying dormant in our subconscious for decades. This is possible even if the food was first relished at an early age, which we cannot recall any memory of.
Example: Eating a certain flavour of strawberries as a child can trigger the memory or recognition of the particular taste when eaten after decades as an adult.
Food memories are formed unconsciously and can create certain curious associations and preferences in our life. It adds nostalgia and emotional meaning to our recollection of the experience.
The smells and tastes of the past infuse wonder, colour and depth to our life.
A false memory refers to a distorted recall of an event.
They can be completely unreal. In some cases, false memories may comprise aspects of the fact that have been distorted by interfering information or other memory distortions.
Common elements of false memory include: