What Happens in the Brain When We Misremember

Most people think of memory as a faithful, if incomplete, recording of the past—a kind of multimedia storehouse of experiences. But psychologists, neuroscientists and lawyers know better. Eyewitness testimony, for instance, is now known to be notoriously unreliable. This is because memory is not just about retrieving stored information. Our minds normally construct memories using a blend of remembered experiences and knowledge about the world. Our memories can be frazzled, though, by new experiences that end up tangling the past and the present. The sometimes dire consequences of misremembering have led psychologists to try to discover the underlying causes of faulty memories—and a new study has just found a key site in the brain whose functioning gives insight into both the underpinnings of memory and why we misremember things. The…

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