Members in the Media
From: The New York Times

A Leading Memory Researcher Explains How to Make Precious Moments Last

Our memories form the bedrock of who we are. Those recollections, in turn, are built on one very simple assumption: This happened. But things are not quite so simple. “We update our memories through the act of remembering,” says Charan Ranganath, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Davis, and the author of the illuminating new book “Why We Remember.” “So it creates all these weird biases and infiltrates our decision making. It affects our sense of who we are.” Rather than being photo-accurate repositories of past experience, Ranganath argues, our memories function more like active interpreters, working to help us navigate the present and future. The implication is that who we are, and the memories we draw on to determine that, are far less fixed than you might think. “Our identities,” Ranganath says, “are built on shifting sand.”

What is the most common misconception about memory? People believe that memory should be effortless, but their expectations for how much they should remember are totally out of whack with how much they’re capable of remembering. Another misconception is that memory is supposed to be an archive of the past. We expect that we should be able to replay the past like a movie in our heads. The problem with that assumption is that we don’t replay the past as it happened; we do it through a lens of interpretation and imagination.

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