Brain updates memory with current experience – Η μνήμη μας δεν είναι… βιντεοκάμερα

memory

A new study suggests the process of memory rewrites what is stored  to bring it in line with new experiences. Writing in The Journal of Neuroscience, researchers  describe how they pinpointed the hippocampus as the place where this editing  occurs.

Lead author Dr. Donna Jo Bridge, of Chicago’s Northwestern University Feinberg School of  Medicine, where she is a a postdoctoral fellow in Medical Social Sciences, says even people’s  recollections of love at first sight could just be tricks of memory:

“When you think back to when you met your current partner, you may recall this feeling of  love and euphoria,” she says. “But you may be projecting your current feelings back to the  original encounter with this person.”

Memory is a continual editing process

Dr. Bridge says memories are continually adapting to constantly changing environments to help  us survive and deal with what is important right now.

She explains that memory reframes and edits events to create a story to fit the present  world. “It’s built to be current,” she adds.

The authors believe this is the first study to show how memory inserts things from the  present into recollections of the past when they are retrieved. In their study, they demonstrate  the exact point when that new information is implanted.

They found that the editing happens in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for  memory function.

Senior author Dr. Joel Voss, assistant professor of Medical Social Sciences and of Neurology  at Feinberg, says, “the information that is relevant right now can overwrite what was there to  begin with,” adding:

“Everyone likes to think of memory as this thing that lets us vividly remember our childhoods  or what we did last week. But memory is designed to help us make good decisions in the moment  and, therefore, memory has to stay up-to-date.”

Participants’ memories of object locations changed to reflect new information

For their study, they recruited 17 men and women and invited them to carry out a three-part  experiment involving looking at and moving objects around a computer screen.

The participants undertook the tests while in an MRI scanner so the researchers could monitor  their brain activity.

In the first part of the experiment, the participants were invited to study various objects  presented to them on a computer screen. Each object appeared on a different background, such as  an ocean scene, or an aerial view of farmland.

In the next part of the experiment, the participants were presented with the objects again,  but with a different background. The researchers asked them to put the objects in their correct  locations, as presented to them in the first part of the experiment.

The participants always put the objects in the wrong place on the screen.

Then in the final stage of the experiment, the participants were presented with each object  again, on its original background, but in three positions on the screen: the original one, the  one they placed it in when doing the second part of the experiment, and a brand new position not  used before. They were asked to select the position that the object had first appeared in when  they first saw it.

But participants kept choosing the position they picked in the second part of the experiment,  says Dr. Bridge, adding that:

“This shows their original memory of the location has changed to reflect the location they  recalled on the new background screen. Their memory has updated the information by inserting the  new information into the old memory.”

While they were carrying out the experiments, the researchers also tracked participants’ eye  movements. They say this showed if there was any conflict in their choices, and it sometimes  revealed more about the content of their memories than the position they eventually placed  objects in.

Study may have implications for use of eyewitness testimony

Dr. Bridge says the findings could have implications for the reliability of eyewitness  testimony in court cases:

“Our memory is built to change, not regurgitate facts, so we are not very reliable  witnesses.”

The authors acknowledge that their study was carried out as a controlled experiment, so all  they can say is what they found is limited to those conditions. But they suggest it would be  reasonable to assume memory behaves the same way in everyday life.

Grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the National  Institute on Aging, both of the National Institutes of Health, financed the study.

Η μνήμη μας είναι μια τρελή χρονομηχανή που ξαναγράφει το παρελθόν, αλλά αξιοποιώντας εμπειρίες του σήμερα και όχι λειτουργώντας ως απλός καταγραφέας

memories

Αυτό δείχνει μια νέα μελέτη, η οποία μάλιστα εντοπίζει την περιοχή του εγκεφάλου που αναλαμβάνει αυτό το μοντάζ… στον χρόνο. Η νέα μελέτη επιβεβαιώνει ότι η ανθρώπινη μνήμη δεν λειτουργεί σαν βιντεοκάμερα.
Σύμφωνα με τους ερευνητές στο Πανεπιστήμιο Νορθγουέστερν στo Σικάγο των ΗΠΑ, και διά στόματος της μίας εκ των συγγραφέων της μελέτης Ντόνα Τζο Μπριτζ: «Όταν θυμόσαστε την εποχή που γνωρίσατε τον σημερινό σας σύντροφο δεν αποκλείεται να ανακαλείτε ένα συναίσθημα αγάπης και ευφορίας. Στην πραγματικότητα όμως μπορεί να προβάλλετε τα σημερινά σας συναισθήματα πίσω στην αρχική σας συνάντηση με αυτό το άτομο». Όσον αφορά τη χρησιμότητα αυτού του χρονικού μοντάζ, οι ερευνητές λένε ότι πρόκειται για ένα τρικ του εγκεφάλου στην προσπάθειά του να παραγάγει μια ιστορία που «ταιριάζει στο σήμερα».
Η μελέτη, δημοσιευμένη στη γνωστή επιστημονική επιθεώρηση Journal of Neuroscience, εξέτασε την αλλοίωση των αναμνήσεων σε εθελοντές, οι οποίοι έκαναν πάντα λάθος στην προσπάθειά τους να θυμηθούν τη θέση ενός αντικειμένου. «Αυτό δείχνει ότι η αρχική ανάμνηση της θέσης άλλαξε, ώστε να ανακλά τη θέση την οποία ανακαλούσαν οι εθελοντές στο νέο φόντο», εξηγεί η Μπριτζ. «Η μνήμη τους ενημέρωσε τις αποθηκευμένες πληροφορίες εισάγοντας τις νέες πληροφορίες στην παλιά ανάμνηση».
Οι μετρήσεις έδειξαν ότι το… μοντάζ των αναμνήσεων συμβαίνει στον ιππόκαμπο, μια περιοχή που είναι γνωστό ότι συμμετέχει στη μεταφορά των αναμνήσεων από τη βραχυπρόθεσμη στη μακροπρόθεσμη μνήμη. «Η μνήμη μας δεν λειτουργεί σαν βιντεοκάμερα», καταλήγει η Μπριτζ. «Η μνήμη μας βάζει νέα πλαίσια και επεξεργάζεται τα γεγονότα ώστε να παράγει μια ιστορία που ταιριάζει στον σημερινό κόσμο. Είναι φτιαγμένη να αφορά το παρόν».

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2 Responses

  1. Thanks you for this post very interesting. It speaks to the importance of understanding our individual lens that we are looking at the world through. I often also find it very interesting how our emotions shape our memory.

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