09 August 2011


I'm pretty sure I got this link from Andrea Kuszewski, my go-to source for science and psychology. But I really have to start labeling my desktop icons with the name of the person from whom I'm borrowing material, to credit everyone properly. Here it is ~ 4 Things Most People Get Wrong About Memory, written by Katherine Harmon for Scientific American online. In addition to listing each misconception, she explains why the belief is not accurate.

1. Memory works like a video camera, recording the world around us onto a mental tape that we can later replay.

2. An unexpected occurrence is likely to be noticed ~ even when people's attention is elsewhere.

3. Hypnosis can improve memory ~ especially when assisting a witness in recalling details associated with a crime.

4. Amnesia sufferers usually cannot remember their identity or name.

The fact is that our memories are highly selective, unpredictable, and undergo change over time. This is why eyewitness testimony in court trials is actually quite unreliable. We tend to recall things that didn't occur at all, or occurred differently than our brains tell us.

The article makes reference to an online quiz with which you can compare your beliefs about memory with the beliefs of others, and learn whether or not they are accurate. It is an illuminating exercise.

BONUS. This is definitely from Andrea, though I've seen it in the past as well, and may have previously posted the link. It is well worth viewing more than once ~ performance art as story telling, in the form of constantly-changing sand paintings by Ukranian artist Kseniya Simonova. Her mastery borders on the miraculous, and the stories she weaves while in constant, silent motion bring me to tears. You can view one of her performances here.

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