The DRM paradigm is less complicated than it sounds.
Our brains sometimes create 'false memories' — but science suggests we could be better off this way
It involves giving people a list of related words, like bed, sleep, tired, dream, and yawn, and then asking them to recall as many words as possible. Typically, subjects recall words that are related to the words listed, like snooze, or nap, which weren't actually on the list in the first place. A reality mismatch. It's not 'I can't remember,' which is forgetting, but 'I remember vividly something that didn't happen. At first, researchers assumed it was something to do with associations between words.
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But when this was accounted for in experiments, the same results were shown. Instead, fuzzy trace theory puts forward the idea that there are two types of memory: verbatim and gist. Verbatim memory is when we can vividly remember something in detail, whereas gist memories are fuzzy representations of a past event — hence why the theory is called "fuzzy trace. For example, if you're a student you have to apply your knowledge not just on the quiz, but you have to remember it for the next semester, or in a job situation It's not what you've just memorised that day or that week, it's remembering over a longer period.
Gist memory, on the other hand, has a much more powerful influence after a delay, as opposed to verbatim.
Oscars Best Picture nominee Roma sparked my own childhood memories
Fuzzy trace theory correctly predicts this dramatic effect of age on our memories, called a "developmental reversal effect. This means you become more likely to say that a related word appeared on a list that actually wasn't there, but you'll also be more likely to remember the whole list. In other words, as a person gets older, they become much more of a "meaning maker.
Because it's not that our memory necessarily gets worse as you age, but our brains get more biased towards finding meaning at a faster rate. Since the theory was presented, it has been replicated over 50 times by other researchers.
False memories aren't always cause for concern Many were skeptical of the theory at first, as adults tend to do better than children at almost everything. But that's perhaps because we rely on our minds a lot, and any suggestion they are not to be trusted, or they get less accurate as we age, is a frightening prospect. In reality, even though all of us will have manufactured false memories at some point, according to Reyna, we get along just fine.
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From an evolutionary perspective, it might even be beneficial for us to get better at relying on gist memory. For example, Reyna's research found that gist memory helps people make healthier decisions in terms of risk taking. If we went through life only looking at things objectively in a black-and-white sense, we might see things mathematically, and go for the highest expected value every time.
The Allais paradox — a choice problem designed by Maurice Allais in — helps explain this. From an economic perspective, if you do all the maths, the highest expected value is actually Gamble B. Later in the book he observes in my translation :. Almost every day, including twice yesterday, I meet people who tell me we have met but of whom I have no memory.
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