LUnder the cramming education, a student’s performance depends largely on memory. The more you memorize, the faster you can answer the questions, and the better your grades will be. But until after graduation, we still have only a half-knowledge about “memory”. In its BBC Future programme, the BBC scientifically corrects several myths about memory.
1. Memory doesn’t start that early
Many people claim that they have memories since they were born, saying that they have memories of where they fell when they were half a year old, or how they celebrated their 1st birthday with their families. However, Julia Shaw, a psychologist at University College London and author of The Memory Illusion, asserts that they are all just nonsense, explaining: “Because people don’t develop memories sufficient to last into adulthood until at least two years old.” Regardless of the description No matter how careful it is, it is just self-imagination.
Since many of the brain structures required for memory are immature in infancy, it is physically impossible to retain infantile experiences into adulthood. Those so-called childhood memories are just phantoms or “false memories” made up of later experiences or knowledge. But Shaw stresses that this false memory is a byproduct of a healthy thought process that allows people to flexibly reorganize information to cope with the future and prepare them for living a fulfilling life.
2. Memories can change with context
Many psychologists have pointed out that human memory is context-dependent. Experiments have found that when a person puts his hand into a bucket of ice and then remembers a series of new words, if he puts his hand into another bucket of ice later, the memory improves. The study shows that being able to reorganize some of the environmental or physiological cues that were used to form the memory in the first place, even if it seems innocuous, can help people remember things better. This is why, when a person has had a few beers, it is easier to recall past drunken experiences when they are more sober.
Shaw thinks these biological cues might be exploited. For example, eating more chewing gum when reviewing, and making bite movements during the exam may help to recall the reviewed content. In addition to actions, smells can also evoke memories. If you spray the same perfume or toner when you study and take exams, it may also help you recall books and notes you have turned over.
3. Memory timing is always wrong
Michael Jackson passed away, Curiosity landed on Mars, Muli forest fire in Liangshan Prefecture, Shijiazhuang was closed. Can you recall the year and month when each of the above four major events at home and abroad happened? I am afraid that no matter how hard I try to recall, I can only get a general answer, and it is full of mistakes and omissions.
A study shows that we tend to underestimate the time elapsed afterward for distant events such as Michael Jack’s death, but overestimate the speed of time passing afterward for more recent events such as the Shijiazhuang lockdown. This phenomenon is called “temporal displacement” or “telescoping”. This means that the mental timeline is distorted and does not match the physical chronology.
4. Don’t be too conceited about having a good memory
Numerous studies have shown that most people believe their memory is better than average. But statistically, this is actually very unlikely. We seem to ignore and forget when we make mistakes, but we will prioritize the moments when we successfully remember something, so we will use this as the standard when judging whether our memory is good or bad. A lot of students hit the rocks because of this – they think they remember a lot, but when they take the exam, they can’t remember anything.
We’re also often overconfident about our “prospective memory,” our ability to remember future to-dos, which can lead to monetary losses. Shaw cites the example of a subscription service, where customers pay automatically after a free trial for a period of days. Too many people forget to cancel their subscription at the end of the trial period because they are so confident in their prospective memory.
5. Do you have digital amnesia?
While social media can help people remember the past, it can also distort memories, in part because of what’s known as “retrieval-induced forgetting.” Memories become unstable and fragile when pulled into consciousness, making associated memories susceptible to distortion. When we recall a detail of a certain event, it may strengthen the memory of this detail, but it often makes people forget other related information that was not actively evoked.
This situation is very common on social platforms. For example, Facebook’s reminder of a wedding photo grabs your attention and may make you forget about other events of the day. “Letting social media decide which experiences are the most meaningful may make you forget less shareable memories,” Shaw cautions. “It can also strengthen memories of events with the most likes, making some memories seem more meaningful than they should be.” meaningful and memorable.”