Memory is a significant aspect of our mental functioning. It shapes our experiences and influences our perception of past time. From the first day of school to our last day at our workplace, everything is stored in our minds like a memory chip and information on the computer. In fact, the memory chip of the course works in the same fashion as human memory works. Similarly, as the data in the computer memory can be corrupted and get lost due to viruses and malware human memory is not safe from corruption either. It is subject to be corrupted over time and it gets distorted also. the following article aims to explore the phenomenon of memory distortion and its underlying causes.
What is memory distortion?
Memory distortion is a phenomenon where our memory or recollection of past events becomes changed or inaccurate with time. It includes modification, misunderstanding, and misinterpretation of a situation that has been previously encountered. Memory distortion causes differences even in the actual experience and what is stored in memory. Memory distortion can happen for various reasons and it can different forms.
Types of Memory Distortion
Misattribution of memory can occur when we remember a piece of information correctly but attribute or associate it with the wrong source. For example, We might remember listening to the news on TV but in reality, you heard it from a friend.
b) False Memories:
False memories are the memories of the events which never happened. It can happen due to distorted recalling of an event that has been stored due to suggestion or imagination by use. Over time we assume an event has happened and our memory also remembers it like that due to the strong thinking that we have witnessed that event.
Suggestibility is a phenomenon that indicates how easily we tend to be influenced by external sources of information. The influence impacts our ability to understand a situation and form a memory based on our interpretation. When recalling an event people can include this suggestion into the recalling process.
d) Source Amnesia:
Source Amnesia can be defined as when we are able to store information in our memory correctly but while recalling an event we might misremember it. We might question the source of the information during recall. This usually happens while recalling news or stories and from other people.
Factors Influencing Memory Distortion
When we are experiencing a huge emotional event, we are more likely to misremember something. Because of the strong emotions involved such as the death of a person, any tragic event, or any disaster, we might have memory distortion when recalling info later. Intense emotions tend to impair our memory.
High levels of stress can impair our memory. Traumatic memories tend to hinder our memory because of the strong negative feelings attached to them. Traumatic memories tend to be fragmented or forgotten depending upon the nature of events.
Schemas are mental frameworks in our minds that help us to organize the information we have learned. Schemas tend to enhance memory however it is also a subject of bias and distortion depending on the person. Due to schemas we always tend to adjust the new piece of learned information n based on our mental thinking.
d) Misinformation Effect:
Misinformation is a phenomenon that occurs when we encounter a false piece of information after experiencing an event. This can lead to memory distortion because of the differences in the nature of what we have shared and what we have experienced. For example, while encountering a nearby car accident, listening to the word hit instead of smash can distort our memory of we remember the incident.
The Role of Eyewitness Testimony
Eyewitness testimony can greatly impact memory distortion. Witnesses in legal settings tend to provide inaccurate and inconsistent recollection vents. It can greatly affect the outcome of the testimony leading to wrongful conviction.
Neuroscience of Memory Distortion
According to recent studies in the field of neuroscience, there is more understanding of the phenomenon of memory distortion. Neuroimaging has indicated that the brain’s ability to remember is highly vulnerable to suggestion. The part of the brain called the hippocampus plays an important in the formation of memory and the recalling process.
Memory distortion is a common phenomenon occurring in human beings. It’s a natural aspect of life because memory is not perfect. It is subject to change, distorted, and fading over time. When recalling events with a retrieval process a person has to piece together the info bit by bit the create the recollection of one single event. Our knowledge is limited and so is human capacity. It can not be free errors and change .Hence recognizing our limitations and knowing about the distortion can only help us understand this phenomenon and learn more about the mystery of human cognition.