Brain Is Responsible For the Executive Functions
False memories are also created by the type of events happening to us and are specially created when we go through a traumatic event. It is shown that a negative event can stimulate higher levels of false memory opposed to the times we experience a neutral or positive event. For example, when a person experiences a sexual assault, they might only be able to recall partial parts of it and their minds can also completely block those horrendous memories. An article from the TIME magazine elaborates on how the brain of a rape victim will do just that. In this article they begin to explain that the prefrontal cortex of the brain is responsible for the executive functions such as focusing, processing rational thought and inhibiting impulses. When we endure a state of high stress like sexual assault, the prefrontal cortex becomes impaired and due to a surge of stress chemicals it can even shut down completely. When that part of our brain goes offline, it becomes a lot harder to control what we want to pay attention to and we are no longer able to make sense of what we might be experiencing. This means that we are far less likely to recall what we have just experienced in an orderly way. (Hopper and Lisak). Unfortunately, victims of such events are often misunderstood in our legal system, so much that their cases become miscarriages of justice. This is mainly due to the poor understanding of the human memory.
Remember Specific Things
Our memories have the ability to be accurate at times, but just as mentioned before, they are prone to serious distortion under certain conditions. One might truly believe that they can clearly remember specific things at the time that a major occurrence happens, yet through studies we’ve seen that the memories of our location and the things around us can also be altered. For instance, a study was made on 3,665 people who were assessed on the September 11 attacks. The studies were first surveyed a few days after the attack and surveyed a second time few months after. The survey included questions regarding their location, the time of day, the time the towers were hit, and other people who might have been present. When the answers from the first and second survey were compared, they found that only 47% of them could recall the time the pentagon was hit, and 79.8% could recall the time of day given on the first survey (Luminet). This goes to show how even impactful memories, which should be easy to remember, do not stay intact.
A more obvious contributor to our decaying memory that can’t be ignored is the aging of the human brain. We can try to keep our brains active and exercise our memory but there is no recipe or medicine we can take to stop our brains from aging. The amount of time that passes by from when we form a certain memory plays a big role in how suggestible people are to false memory. While we’d all like to keep a good healthy memory, elderly people are even more vulnerable to having some sort of impairment and memory loss. In a study conducted on memory loss in older people, it was found that parts in our brain start to communicate less smoothly and the neurons decay over time. This causes both visual and verbal memory to be affected negatively. In that study, 40 percent of 65 and older people had age-related memory loss; which comes to show us how memory loss goes hand-in-hand with aging. (Shute). The effects that the elderly face are not only memory distortion, but they’re memories fully start do fade.
Medical conditions can also take a toll on our minds and affect the way memories are captured. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most damaging diseases to our brains that target our short-term memory. It tends to disrupt the communication among neurons, resulting in loss of memory and cell death. While there are a variety of medications to help prevent this disease, unfortunately there is no solution that will completely restore all of those memories. A recent research about Alzheimer’s indicate that an estimated five million Americans are stricken with Alzheimer’s disease, and it is predicted to quadruple over the next thirty years (Angier). Sadly, this causes people suffering from Alzheimer’s to forget crucial details about their own lives. They might occasionally forget their family member’s names, directions to get home as well as intimate relations they might’ve built with people over the years. Because of this, we can’t allegate that our memories are completely dependable.