Just how accurate are the memories that we know are true, that we believe in?

The brain abhors a vacuum. Under the best of observation conditions, the absolute best, we only detect, encode and store in our brains bits and pieces of the entire experience in front of us. When it’s important for us to recall what it was that we experienced, we have an incomplete [memory] store, and what happens?

Below awareness, without any kind of motivated processing, the brain fills in information that was not there, not originally stored, from inference, from speculation, from sources of information that came to you, as the observer, after the observation. But it happens without awareness such that you aren’t even cognizant of it occurring. It’s called ‘reconstructed memory.’

All our memories are reconstructed memories. They are the product of what we originally experienced and everything that’s happened afterwards. They’re dynamic. They’re malleable. They’re volatile. And as a result, we all need to remember that the accuracy of our memories is not measured in how vivid they are nor how certain you are that they’re correct.

Are your memories real .. or fake? Neurophysiologist Scott Fraser says you shouldn’t be so sure that what you remember is always what actually happened. Fraser researches how humans remember crimes, and in a powerful talk at TEDxUSC, he suggests that even close-up eyewitnesses to a crime can create “memories” they couldn’t have seen.

Watch the whole talk here»