Interesting statements about memory from a neuroscientist. And a bit worrying, too.
“Let’s talk about memory. How reliable is it?
Brain research is pretty clear on this point. Bona fide recorded memory is a very rare thing on this planet. The reason is that the brain isn’t interested in reality; it’s interested in survival. So it will change the perception of reality to stay in the survival mode. Unfortunately, many people still believe that the brain is a lot like a recording device—that learning something is like pushing the “record” button and remembering is simply pushing “playback.” In the real world of the brain, however, that metaphor is an anachronism. The fact is that the actual moment of learning—the moment of fixing a memory—is so complex that we have little understanding of what happens in our brains in those first fleeting seconds. Long-term memory is even worse. That’s because, much like cement, memory takes a long time to settle into its permanent form. While it’s busy hardening, human memory can very easily be modified, as traces of earlier memories leave their imprint upon it. All of which is to say that our understanding of reality is approximate at best. “