Everyone knows the tricks our memory plays on us sometimes. Have you ever experienced the feeling when you seem to remember images, words, and events that, in fact, were nothing but a figment of your imagination and never took place in reality? These are false memories, and we are all prone to them.
Maybe it was a call to your friend that you were sure to have made when you found out that he changed his number. Or you remember very well to have put something somewhere and still, it is not there.
Such situations definitely cause us weird and uncomfortable feelings as if we don’t have control over our own memory. What exactly happens in the brain and results in creating false images in our memory?
Research into false memories
According to scientists, the occurrence of such false memories is quite common. Researchers at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics in Saitama, Japan, created a false memory in a lab mouse in their attempt to collect data and analyze how the human brain creates and processes memories.
Mice cannot be people, but the basic functions of memory in mammals are evolutionarily ancient. Both mice and humans form memories in a hippocampal area of the brain called the dentate helix.
Nobel laureate for his work in immunology Dr. Tonegawa and his team did an experiment on it.
On the first day, the scientists put the mouse in a particular environment and let it get used to remembering it, which allowed them to identify the brain cells engaged in the formation of the memory.
On the second day, the researchers put the mouse in a completely different environment where it was subjected to electroshock. At the same time, they identified and stimulated the brain cells which kept the previous memory to bring it back.
On the next day, the mouse was put in the first environment. As a result, it felt uncomfortable and cringed in fear, which means that it was expecting the electroshock though it never took place in this environment.
The question of why the brain creates false memories has not been answered yet, but it’s a fact that this phenomenon is real and can happen to everyone. Nobody knows whether the brain creates such detailed false images and scenes due to the natural tendency of humans to envision or if it is just an unexplained process that occurs in the human brain…
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