i have enough travel on the song lines posts. let's throw this has blown my mind a bone.
Posted 2013.08.01

This is right up my alley: Scientists Trace Memories of Things That Never Happened - The New York Times.

I can't describe the research any better than they did in the article, so I won't try to recap it. But I will say this is a fascinating subject for me, and something happened Saturday that really struck it home.

I was listening to "Otoño" from Technicolor Fabrics. I was driving back from IUPUI, where I had taken a placement exam and sent Walk for Water 5K photos. I walked the whole 5K to get as good of photos as I could, and my mind was (unconsciously) set up for the last time I did 5Ks: while on the cross-country team in high school. The placement exam was over lots of math concepts, including the unit circle, that I hadn't touched since sophomore and junior year of high school. I drove home on I-65 North, the same interstate I drove to get home during high school. In other words, my mind was simmering in high-school memories and was ready to connect whatever came up with those memories, because brains are good at making connections.

"Otoño" slid perfectly into that suite of memories from high school. After a change that took less than a second, the song suddenly felt very high-school, on par with Fall Out Boy, The Killers, and Goo Goo Dolls. The thing is, I've only known the song exists for a year, and I've only listened to it three or four times. But, because it was played in such a high-school context (and because it was in Spanish, a language I grew to love in high school), I could almost convince myself that I had heard that song for the first time, not one year ago, but 8, 9, or even 10 years ago.

That, my friends, is a false memory. It's a weak one, since I can see through the lie, but it's a hint at how strongly and how quickly a human brain can form a memory of something that simply never happened.

Make a comment