Sunday, October 25, 2009

As we learned last week, flashbulb memories are easily morphed and altered within ones mind. A researcher at New York University by the name of Elizabeth Phelps, in conjunction with other researches around the world, has been looking at flashbulb memories connected to the September 11th attacks here in New York. More specifically, she has been looking at how people’s proximity to the actual event affects their memories of the event. She conducted MRI scans on people in New York City and the surrounding area to gauge how their brains reacted to remembering the event. She found that the part of the brain that reacts when feeling physically threatened was more active in people who were actually close to the towers as opposed to people who were farther removed. The study is still underway, and is being run in conjunction with a database that is scheduled to open to the public this year. Whether this affects how accurately people’s flashbulb memories of events are preserved is unclear, but Phelps’ own research may help to fill in that gap. Her other research focuses on the connection of memory and emotion, an interesting pairing when you consider how strongly emotions play into what you do and do not remember. Just thinking of how people suppress memories due to trauma makes clear how relevant her field of study promises to be.

A Brief Video About Phelps' 9/11 Research

An Article About Phelps

Phelps' NYU Lab Website

The 9/11 National Memory Survey website

1 comment:

Taissia said...

We not only forget memories of everyday things but we also forget our dreams -sleep amnesia. I researched this topic because I am a painting major and am interested in surrealism, dreams, dream interpretation books and so on.
I found that the most common reason why we forget out dreams goes back to Freud and his theory of repression. He believes that because of self preservation our mind blocks the dream because it knows that what you were dreaming is a desire but is wrong in society.
The second reason why we have no recollection of some of our dreams is because the content of the dream is not organized and therefore can not be shaped and chained by our brains storage system.
I believe it is a combination of both and the other components of inaccurate memory storage.
I found that the best way to remember dreams is to have a notebook on your night stand and write down the dream as soon as you wake up.