Monday, April 16, 2012

Flashbulb Memory

A flashbulb memory is a vivid, detailed, and long-lasting memory for how one learned about a surprising, emotional and meaningful event. Flashbulb memory moments, depending on a person's age and interests, would be hearing of the Challenger space shuttle explosion, JFK's assassination, the attack on the World Trade Center, and most recently, Michael Jackson's death. People will talk about such an event with each other and think about it themselves more often than other ordinary events. Therefore, people feel they vividly remember about those events. However, a study of people's memory about the Challenger explosion shows that flashbulb memories are not so accurate as their owners think. In the study, subjects wrote down where they were, what they were doing, and how they found out about the event once on the week of the disaster, and again in 9 months later. About 25 percent of the subjects provided at least one inconsistent answer, but they were as confident in the incorrect momories as in the correct momories.
Alex, the writer of the article, says these inaccuracies are a side-effect of our memory mechanism. Old memories need to fade and be forgotten in order to hold new information, but sometimes people mix two memories together and create a false memory. Because flashbulb memories are remembered and rehearsed more than other typical events, and are more important and emotional, people tend to believe that those events really happened just the way they remember. However, flashbulb memories are not safe from the side-effect, and we need to realize that those special memories are not perfect.

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