A friend recollects an event differently. You are baffled on hearing his version. The event is hilarious than you remember. But the details have changed. As a result, you feel amused. At the same time, you are also hurt a bit. Eventually, you decide not to confront. Instead, you play along. Has this happened to you? Were you secretly angry with your friend for twisting the facts? If you have been hurt or angry, then your friend did not deliberately alter the event. This phenomenon happens because of how memory works. Memories can change. The above fact is described by psychiatrist Bruce Perry of the Feinberg School of Medicine.
"We know today that, just like when you open a Microsoft Word file on your computer, when you retrieve a memory from where it is stored in the brain, you automatically open it to 'edit.' You may not be aware that your current mood and environment can influence the emotional tone of your recall, your interpretation of events, and even your beliefs about which events actually took place. But when you 'save' the memory again and place it back into storage, you can inadvertently modify it...[This] can bias how and what you recall the next time you pull up that 'file.'"
Whenever we access the memory, we also modify it before placing it back. As a result, all the events that we recollect has been changed. The order of magnitude of the change may vary. But the memory has been altered from its original state. While you may be cross with your friend for altering the event, your friends might also hold you guilty on the same count. Next time you hear a friend recounting an event, you must remember this characteristic of the memory.Tags: Musings, Memory, Change