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Science & Technology

The human brain retrieves memories backwards

By T.K. Randall
January 15, 2019 · Comment icon 14 comments

The human brain works in mysterious ways. Image Credit: CC 2.0 Andrew Mason
A new study has revealed that the human brain actually works in reverse when recalling details of our memories.
The research, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham's Center for Human Brain Health, involved reconstructing the memory retrieval process using special brain decoding techniques that make it possible to track when a unique memory is being reactivated.

For the study, participants were each shown images of specific objects and were asked to associate each of them with a unique reminder word. After a certain time had passed, they were then presented with one of these reminder words and asked to reconstruct the image in as much detail as possible.

The findings indicated that when the brain retrieves memories about a specific object, it begins by first focusing on the core meaning of that object before recalling more specific details.
When a person encounters an object for the first time however, the brain focuses initially on the visual aspects such as patterns and colors, before moving on to the meaning afterwards.

"We know that our memories are not exact replicas of the things we originally experienced," said study lead author Juan Linde Domingo. "Memory is a reconstructive process, biased by personal knowledge and world views - sometimes we even remember events that never actually happened. "

"If our memories prioritise conceptual information, this also has consequences for how our memories change when we repeatedly retrieve them."

"It suggests they will become more abstract and gist-like with each retrieval. Although our memories seem to appear in our 'internal eye' as vivid images, they are not simple snapshots from the past, but reconstructed and biased representations."

Source: | Comments (14)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by Guyver 5 years ago
Will you explain shadow work?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Not A Rockstar 5 years ago
Be glad to, @Guyver as this is almost a religion for me lmao. Long explanation follows: I never got into Carl Jung at all but later in life (heck, this very year, thanks to a mention by 8bits got me onto it) discovered a less known part of his research into what makes us tick, which is called Shadow work. For most of my life I knew this and worked it through meditation and self analysis, but since finding his work my instinctive efforts have really ramped up and clarified for me. I find it brilliant. Basically, Jung saw the shadow aspect of us to be a part of the unconscious mind. I see it as ... [More]
Comment icon #7 Posted by Impedancer 5 years ago
I found it hard to remember things in detail as other people normally do it's mostly in a blur to me. However i do remember some things :-)
Comment icon #8 Posted by Guyver 5 years ago
I love you man.  The world is a better place because you are in it.  
Comment icon #9 Posted by Not A Rockstar 5 years ago
it is very mutual. Lots of love back to you  
Comment icon #10 Posted by godnodog 5 years ago
weird, I notice that my memories arent vivid at all.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Reignite 5 years ago
I have looked into Jung and his shadow theory and then I noticed some aspects being awfully similar to certain Buddhist texts I have studies and practiced over the years (especially Abhidharma). Then I found a website claiming that Jung once studies lots of Buddhist and Yogic texts. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have more sources acknowledging this?
Comment icon #12 Posted by Not A Rockstar 5 years ago
Nope. But, if I learned it myself before I found out about it from his work, I am sure others also have. Nobody owns it.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Reignite 5 years ago
The same happened to me, after I learned stuff during meditation I found out it closely resembled ancient practices. I was just wondering because I am sincerely interested in western psychologists and scientist having studied Asian philosophies.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps 5 years ago
Oh. Everyone's brain works backwards    I thought it was just mine

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