The Fallibility of 9/11 Memories

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How confident are you in your memories? After a dramatic, emotionally charged event such as the 9/11 terrorist attack, people describe their memories of the event as being “etched” or “burned” into their minds. And their confidence that such recollections are completely accurate is abnormally high compared with ordinary memories. Does this notion of a “flashbulb memory” hold up against the data? Cognitive neuroscientist Elizabeth Phelps details a study conducted on September 12, 2001 regarding the memories surrounding this tragic event, as well as brain imaging experiments her lab has conducted. The results of which are counterintuitive and sometimes difficult to accept.
More from this ongoing series: The Unbearable Lightness of Memory

This program is a part of The Big, the Small, and the Complex, a Series made possible with the support of The Kavli Prize.

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Date: Friday June 3, 2011
Time: 08:00 PM-09:30 PM
Venue: The Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College
Moderator: Dan Harris
Participants: Daniel L. Schacter, Lynn Nadel, Todd Sacktor, Elizabeth Phelps

It’s the thought of your childhood home. It’s that comforting aroma you can still smell ten years later. It’s the way you define yourself. It’s your memory. Where is memory stored? How do we recall? Why do we forget? We’ll shine a light on these and many other questions about long-term memory from a molecular, psychological, and emotional perspective. The audience discovered how their long-term memories can be naturally twisted, tweaked, and changed, and how memories of the past could also help us peer into the future....[Read more]