Neuropunked: 5 ways our brains are messing with our memories

The mind is a much more confusing place than you would imagine

Topics: Scientific American, Neuroscience, Memory, Brain, Science, ,

This article was originally published by Scientific American.

Scientific American1. Psychologists at Northwestern University showed that each time you recall an event, your brain alters the memory by integrating new information—perhaps drawing on your current mood, activity or location, among other things.

2. The moment of recall can also impair a memory, according to work at Iowa State University. Study participants watched an episode of the television show 24, in which a terrorist used a needle during an attack. Some subjects were quizzed on the plot before they all listened to a recap that incorrectly said the weapon was a stun gun. Only the people who recalled a needle during the quiz had trouble remembering the weapon later.

3. Neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology implanted false memories in mice. The rodents first learned that one chamber was safe but that another was not—in it, they received an electric shock. When the mice later occupied the unsafe chamber, the scientists activated the memory of the safe room using an optical probe. The next day, when the rodents again entered the safe chamber, they froze in place—a sign of fear—even though they had never been shocked there.



4. A recent study at Emory University showed it might be possible to inherit memories from our parents and perhaps even our grandparents. Researchers trained mice to shudder in fear in response to a specific smell. The children and grandchildren of these mice displayed the same reaction to the odor, despite having never come across it before.

5. A jolt of caffeine, equivalent to about 12 ounces of coffee, made study subjects at Johns Hopkins University more likely to recall information they had just learned—but the effect may work only on people who do not drink caffeine regularly.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and the friends with whom he recorded in middle school in Texas (photo courtesy of Dan Pickering)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser publicity shot (L-R: Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson, Neil Gust, Elliott Smith) (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott and JJ Gonson (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    "Stray" 7-inch, Cavity Search Records (photo courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott's Hampshire College ID photo, 1987

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott with "Le Domino," the guitar he used on "Roman Candle" (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Full "Roman Candle" record cover (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Elliott goofing off in Portland (courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    Heatmiser (L-R: Elliott Smith, Neil Gust, Tony Lash, Brandt Peterson)(courtesy of JJ Gonson photography)

    "Roman Candle" turns 20: Secrets of Elliott Smith's accidental masterpiece (slideshow)

    The Greenhouse Sleeve -- Cassette sleeve from Murder of Crows release, 1988, with first appearance of Condor Avenue (photo courtesy of Glynnis Fawkes)

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...