False Memory

False Memory



Did you ever have a clear memory of an event only to find that someone you were with at the event remembers it differently? Has anything like the following ever happened to you?

· You and your friend are reminiscing about a great party the two of you went to last year.

· Your friend says that the party took place outside, but you remember being inside the entire night.

· Your friend says that your hair was long, but you think that can’t be right since you have been growing out your hair since last year, so it must have been short.

· Your friend starts laughing as she reminds you that you fell asleep on the sofa and that the other guests then poked you and took pictures. At first you have no memory of this, but as your friend speaks, you start feeling embarrassed as you suddenly remember the sensation of being prodded in your sleep and the burst of camera flashes that night.

The truth is that the party was actually outside. You were remembering another party, which took place indoors. Your hair was only an inch shorter then than it is now, though you believe it has grown a lot more in the past year than it actually has. And your friend made up the whole story about you falling asleep, getting poked, and having your picture taken. In fact, you only had a Diet Coke that night, but your mind tricked you into thinking it actually occurred as she had said.

These are all examples of the different forms of memory distortion—a collection of phenomena that demonstrate how our long-term memories are not always permanent. In this ZAPS lab, your memory will be tested. Click on the Experience tab above to proceed.


As you learned in the Introduction, memory is far from perfect. In this ZAPS lab, we will do a memory experiment in which you will see that your own memory is not necessarily flawless.

After you click “Start Trial,” a series of 12 words will appear one-by-one on the screen. Then, you will be asked to select from a new list those words that you believe appeared in the original list. You may take as much time as you want to select your words. When you have completed your selections, click “Submit” to try another series of words. There are six series total.

After reading a list of 12 words, I will be asked to _______ .

·  select words on a new list that appeared in the original list

· write out all the words that appeared in the list

· arrange the words from the list alphabetically

· write a short story that uses as many words as possible from the list





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