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I'm gonna read you a list of 15 words, and after I'm done reading them,
I want you to write down as many as you can remember.
Ready to listen?
Okay.
Sour.
Nice.
Candy.
Honey.
Sugar.
Soda.
Bitter.
Chocolate.
Good.
Heart.
Taste.
Cake.
Tooth.
Tart.
Pie.
Okay. Now pause this video and write down as many as you can without cheating.
Even when you hit the point of getting stumped, close your eyes and think, and you'll likely recall a few more.
Ready to reveal?
Now, some of you likely got the last few words I said,
like tooth, tart, and pie.
But did you remember the word "sweet"?
Be honest. Because surprisingly,
the majority of people are actually likely to write down the word sweet even though it was not on the list at all.
And this is what we call a false memory.
It's a psychological phenomenon where a person remembers something that didn't occur.
Like how many people vividly remember the Monopoly man having a monocle?
He never has.
Or recall hearing the phrase "Luke, I am your father" when he only says "No, I am your father".
Or the evil witch saying "Mirror mirror on the wall" when she says "Magic mirror on the wall".
Memories are first formed in the hippocampus of the brain,
one of the only areas where brand new neurons are made regularly.
This information is saved by altering neurons and creating synapses and connections.
But it's often only focusing on the major details of your experience.
So you might remember the time, place, and person, but not necessarily the color of their hat.
However, your memories aren't perfect.
If you're introduced to new information between the time of you experiencing something, and when you try to recall it,
for example, if somebody else gives you a slightly different account of how things were,
it can alter or even completely replace your memory.
And eventually these new memories gradually migrate further into the cortex becoming your truth.
And each time you think about or misremember an event, the further you cement this new truth.
This simple effect can have pretty incredible consequences.
Like eye witnesses for crimes or accidents recalling false details.
In fact, one study found that if they showed people a car accident and then ask two groups
either:
how fast were the cars going when they "bumped" into each other,
or
how fast were the cars going when they "smashed" into each other.
Those who heard the word "smashed", were more likely to report higher speeds.
This same verb also made them more likely to report that they saw broken glass in the accident even when there was none.
In a similar study, a car was shown going through a stop sign, causing an accident.
But if a question was asked suggesting it was a yield sign,
many witnesses would confirm that it was a yield sign.
This is why eye witness accounts are less often used as evidence now unless they're corroborated and verified.
Finally, some studies have been able to successfully implant false childhood memories into test subjects.
Researchers would give the subjects four short narratives describing childhood events that happened to them,
but without the subjects knowing one false memory was included about being lost in a shopping mall as a kid.
And yet, 25% of the test subjects reported remembering the false event.
Think your memory is better?
How did this video even start?
I mean, other than our logo which plays at the beginning of every video we make,
can you remember what happened after that?
Except,
we didn't play the logo at the beginning of this video.
And if you thought we did, I just gave you a false memory.
Be sure to check out our newest videos by clicking the screen or using the links in the description,
and subscribe for more weekly science videos every Thursday.
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Can You Remember This?

44853 Folder Collection
Colleen Jao published on July 10, 2017    Colleen Jao translated    Jerry reviewed
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