newb0058: October 2011 Archives

Implanting False Memories

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It's not hard to make someone believe something is true if you were to manipulate a memory in the distant past or something that could be true. If you were to reinforce to your roommate that when you moved in she said you could have the TV on whenever you want, it would be pretty hard for her to disagree with you and pretty soon she will believe that it is true. It's not kind to manipulate your friends just so you can watch the reruns of the Jersey Shore every week but it is defiantly possible.
Providing people with misleading information can cause the subject to feel as though this could be possible. They recall a memory of something however they forget that it was only suggested to them previously rather than the event actually occurring. Case Study of False Memories Looking at this link, In these instances the first two girls were led to believe brutal and terrible things because they trusted their psychiatrists. Trusted sources can often lead us to be fooled. Once a misleading piece of information has been reinforced it is more difficult for the subjects to believe that it was false.
In a research done by Ira Hyman, Hyman researched childhood memories that happened to subjects. During a series of interviews she questioned her subjects whether or not the instances happened. In the first interview Hyman asked her subjects about something that did happen and that did not happen. 84 percent of the true events in the first interview and 88 percent in the second interview were remember by the subjects. None of the participants recalled the false event during the first interview, but 20 percent said they remembered something about the false event in the second interview. By implanting the false memory, the subjects remembered the subject but could not remember the source and thus believed that it was true.

While eating dinner with your parents, they bring up the topic of getting a new dog and discussing what kind. You are suddenly overwelhmed with the feeling that you have already had this conversation with them, eating the same meal, and debating the same things. Or as you are out enjoying the day you have an odd sensation that you have already lived through this moment, and have seen the same children playing across the street. Anyone who has experienced déjà vu will tell you of the unsettling feeling that something has already happened before. There is an overwelhming sense of familiarity with something that should not be that familar. Seven out of ten Americans will report to having some form of these experiences mainly in the age range of 15 to 25 year olds. It can occur in anyone with or without a medical condition however it is usually related to the frontal lobe. Several pyschologists attribute it to wish fulfillment and fantasy. There are claims that the brain confuses the past and the present making someone to feel as though they have already experienced what they are experiencing at that moment. Other pyschologists claim that it is caused by an excess of dopamine in the temporal lobe.

I have personally had my own déjà vu experience last christmas when I was sitting at my Grandparents house for dinner. We all stood up to say a prayer and as I looked around the room I felt as though we had already said this same prayer and had already sat in the same seats. While the dinner served on Christmas at my Grandparents house does not usually vary from year to year, the room that we were eating in and the place I was sitting was new that year. It was the first Christmas since my Grandpa had passed yet it felt like he had never been there with us. The unusal feeling was chilling and disturbing as though I had forgotten the presence of my Grandfather. The question of how at that moment I could remember him so little still lingers in my mind. I don't understand how someone who could never be forgotten could feel as though they were never there. Could I have been forseeing the future Christmases sitting in the new room without my Grandfather and have been confused with the past? The experience was shortlived however it still left a lasting impression on me.

We encounter stressors in our life almost every day. Some days it's that project that is due in two days and others it is the twig that snaps behind us when we are walking outside in the dark. Our bodies have a developed a systematic reaction to when we encounter a stressful situation however it was meant to only be used once in a while. Back when humans were all hunter and gatherers, the main stressor would only be when in a fight or when hunting. The body reacts with a heightened blood pressure, paused digestion and a quickened heart rate among other things. The body would have time to recover itself from the momentary panic and would have time to flush out Corticotrophin Releasing Factor, a hormone which is released in the case of panic. The flight/fight response is only supposed to be used occasionally however modern life is filled with a sustainably higher amount of stressors then when humans first inhabited the earth. This causes it to be overactive and cause more stress related health problems. Just to name a few stress can increase emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains, or irregular heartbeats. So the question becomes, have humans evolved at all to compensate for the overuse of the autonomic system. With 75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month, as of a study done in 2009, it doesn't appear so. Here is a video also illuminating the issue in a stressful work situation:

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