Okay, in the past two days we've seen that our memories are malleable. We can easily be made to misremember, and easily be made to adopt memories of things that never happened. But what actually goes on in our brains as we code bad information? Can we see misinformation taking hold?

Researchers Yoko Okado and Craig Stark can.

They showed subjects slides (correct information), and then showed them another set of slides with details changed (incorrect information).

Our hippocampus drives memory. Okado and Stark watched subjects' hippocampuses as subjects evaluated the two slides and sure enough, the information that most brightly lit the hippocampus is the information that subjects remembered.

Next (here's the cool part-stay with it), Okado and Stark monitored the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for adding "source tags" to information stored in our memories. No matter if subjects remembered correct or incorrect information, if the PFC's source tag was stronger in the original slide, subjects thought their information came from this slide.

Thus is a false memory born: the hippocampus remembers the wrong information and the prefrontal cortex believes it's from the original scene.

Here's a little memory experiment. First, close your right eye and look at the picture of my new book (at left). And now close your left eye and look at the picture of attractive people kissing on the right. Now, as quickly as you can, blink your eyes to alternate between the two images. Repeat for at least 15 seconds. Do you feel strangely compelled to buy Brain Candy?

 

Brain Candy by Garth Sundem

Recent Posts in Brain Candy

This Simple Trick Will Transform How You Solve Problems

Let Juliet, MacGyver and Captain Sideways teach you about functional fixedness

Building With LEGO Kit Instructions Makes Kids Less Creative

Study shows the 'mindset' of LEGO kit building hurts creativity on next tasks

Test and Train Creativity With Just One Word

Yale study shows that creativity is about choosing to use it

How I'm Using Science to Help My Daughter Keep Liking Math

Priming studies show uphill battle for girls and math, and how to help

Study: Only Popular Kids Give Most Attention to Popular Kids

Popularity is in the eye of the (popular) beholder

Study: To Teach Reading and Math, Start With Planning

IQ? Poverty? Neither is as important as the ability to move discs on pegs.