Memories seem so unchanging, so solid; moreover, they help make us who we are. Many people consider themselves to be the sum of their memories. And yet, strong evidence exists that suggests our memories are highly complex, malleable, and extremely fallable. Through effective suggestion, we can be made to remember things that never happened, or in less extreme cases, change the details of things that really did happen. How much of what you remember is real, and how much is merely illusion?

Recent Posts on False Memories

What the film Altered Minds Reveals about Family Secrets

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on January 26, 2016 The Squeaky Wheel
Part two of my interview with the director of 'Altered Minds'--focusing on family secrets.

Why Psych Majors Should Watch Altered Minds

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on January 25, 2016 The Squeaky Wheel
Part one of my interview with the director of the psychological thriller 'Altered Minds' starring Judd Hirsch

8 Tips to Make You a Great Story Teller

Telling a good tale may seem like an art that some people are born with. Even if you’re not known for your story-telling skills, these 8 simple tips can help you become the spell-binding spinner you always hoped you could be.

Altered Minds

By Hara Estroff Marano on November 20, 2015 Nation of Wimps
In a new film, Altered Minds, director Michael Z Wechsler bases the psychological suspense on covert mind-control experiments.

'Altered Minds' Brings Modern Crises to the Big Screen

Michael Weschler’s newest film, Altered Minds, provides an over-the-top glimpse into family dynamics gone awry. One reason that family dynamics and resultant mental health issues can be so messed up these days pertains to evolutionary mismatch. Here’s how.

Ben Carson and the Mandela Effect

By David Ludden Ph.D. on November 09, 2015 Talking Apes
It’s not just that our memories are unreliable. Our intuitions about how memory works are inaccurate as well.

Does Mindfulness Meditation Affect Memory?

By Art Markman Ph.D. on November 03, 2015 Ulterior Motives
A key aspect of memory is your ability to distinguish things that actually happened to you from things you were just thinking about. When you witness an accident, your ability to recall it properly requires that you remember whether facts you believe about that event came from what you actually saw and heard or whether they reflect other factors.

4 Ways to Tell If a Therapist Is Competent

That’s only 4 things I’m looking for when evaluating in-office individual talk therapy. In my experience, the vast majority of therapists practice none of them.

Eye of the Beholder: The Brain Sabotaging Love

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on August 02, 2015 Obesely Speaking
Expectations, which are influenced by social norms, filter reality about the world, others, and our selves. As a result we could walk right past Mr. or Ms. Right without ever recognizing them.

World War II Memories

A I was to young to remember much about it. But I've been so riveted to other people's dramatizations of the war in books, films or on the screen, that the war has felt like part of my psychic reality. You could say I've been just one step shy of suffering a Brian Williams type 'embellishment syndrome.'

Neuroscientists Confirm That Strangers Can Become Ourselves

Your brain has the ability to transfer your sense of self into the physical body of a stranger.

Why Are Cannabis Users Susceptible to Memory Distortion?

A new study reports that chronic cannabis use can make imaginary memories seem like reality.

Brian Williams, Journalism, and Celebrity Culture

When journalists start living in a celebrity bubble, bad things can happen. Just ask Brian Williams. His downfall reminds us of the malleability of memory, and it also poses a cautionary tale to all journalists, particularly to the trend in journalism education to promote "entrepreneurial" journalism -- teaching aspiring journalists to cultivate their own "brand".

Remembering 9/11

Exceptionally vivid memories we have concerning traumatic events have a way of staying with us long after other memories fade with time. Known as "flashbulb memories", they are a form of autobiographical memory that are especially powerful due to surprise and shock that ensures that the memory stays with us. But how accurate are these memories?

Blank Spaces of Memory

By Bruce Poulsen Ph.D. on March 01, 2015 Reality Play
Memory’s underpinnings have long been explored by artists and writers—from Klimt to Proust. Some contemporary works also deserve our attention.

Why We Remember Things the Way We Want to Remember Them

When public figures erroneously report on events that didn’t actually happen in their lives, the whole world knows about it. However, false memories are a common occurrence in everyone’s day-to-day thinking. Remembering what you want to remember may be more a matter of identity than of failing memory.

Should Brian Williams Do a Story on False Memory?

Did newsman Brian Williams tell fibs to his TV audience? To himself? Or is something more complicated going on? New research, reported at the AAAS conference in San Jose, shows that memory can be a very tricky thing. We're just starting to understand how it works and, in some dark creepy labs, scientists are even planting false memories—in mice (or so they say).

The Truth About False Memories

By Denise Cummins Ph.D. on February 12, 2015 Good Thinking
Implanting false memories in people is not as easy as we've been led to believe.

Why Famous People Aren’t Immune to False Memories

There are many important reasons why Brian Williams would in fact feel like he indeed remembers riding in a helicopter that was hit and damaged, even if he was nowhere near it.

Your Guide to Psychotherapy Options

Psychotherapy is not a 'one size fits all.' Different diagnoses and personality styles may fit better with different therapeutic modalities. This blog is designed to help you better understand some of the most commonly used (and empirically validated) techniques.

I’m Hallucinating a White Christmas

By Joe Pierre M.D. on December 23, 2014 Psych Unseen
What does the White Christmas Test tell us about a link between hallucinations, fantasy proneness, or for that matter, Santa Claus?

5 Hours of Sleep or Less Can Lead to False Memories

Just a small amount of sleep deprivation may cause you to remember things that never happened.

To Believe or Not Believe Bill Cosby's Accusers

By Janice Harper Ph.D. on November 24, 2014 Beyond Bullying
It's true that false accusations can multiply, but in the case of Bill Cosby, the pattern of accusation suggests they are more credible than suspect. When mob mentality or opportunism lead to false accusations, they share specific features that are missing in the litany of accusations against the famed comedian.

Is Human Thinking Optimal?

By Paul Thagard Ph.D. on October 31, 2014 Hot Thought
Philosophy and psychology should abandon assumptions that human minds are at all optimal or rational, and instead concentrate on identifying the neural mechanisms that make us good at but far from perfect for remembering, forming beliefs, making decisions, using language, and pursuing happiness.

Dream Déjà Vu

By Michelle Carr on October 14, 2014 Dream Factory
Many of us have had the impression of re-visting specific places in our dreams; there may be a clear feeling of familiarity or a vague memory of the dreamscape, a sort of dream déjà vu. It's especially interesting when these places are novel creations of the dreamworld, existing only in the dreamer's mind.

Sleep and False Memories

By Art Markman Ph.D. on October 07, 2014 Ulterior Motives
When you remember a past event, you are not just playing back a video or audio file of a previous encounter. Instead, memories are reconstructed. That means that many sources of information can be combined to influence what you remember about the past.

Can You Trust Your Memory?

By Sian Beilock Ph.D. on July 31, 2014 Choke
It happens to all of us. Try as we might, we often don’t get the amount of sleep our mind and body needs to function at its best. It’s no secret that sleep deprivation makes us tired and irritable, but new research shows that a lack of sleep can also lead us to remember events and experiences that didn’t happen.

On the Nature of Words, Part 1

The meanings of words are less transparent than many assume.

Science Fiction or Fact?

By Paul Li on June 26, 2014 Total Recall?
Can science fiction of implanting memories someday turn into science fact? We'll look at some of the recent sci-fi films that could actually come true.

Should Police Lineups Be Sequential or Simultaneous?

New analyses have rekindled debate over whether police should show lineups to witnesses with possible criminals presented one at a a time or all at once.