The Treacherous Memory

From Austin Storm
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Along the way, Shaw disposes of an impressive number of outright myths, always citing the laboratory science and adducing cases. In brief: despite all the confident claims one sometimes hears, no one can “remember” being born or indeed anything much before about four or five years old, as the brain does not physically develop its memory function until then. It seems no one can actually remember “the good old days” with any accuracy. There is no such thing as a “photographic memory” so ignore any ads that claim to teach you how to develop one. Ditto for “learn while you sleep” applications. Ditto for “mental sport applications” claiming to make you “smarter”; they will make you dumber. Traumatic memories are highly questionable, and claims need to be handled with extreme care. “Multi-tasking”, literally understood, is not possible for the human brain as the short-term memory can handle only limited amounts of information at any one time. Above all, the brain is highly vulnerable to emotional “flooding” or contamination from the high emotions of others (as anyone attending a local ball game will attest from their own experience).

- a review of Julia Shaw's The Memory Illusion