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Why Does The Brain Deceive Us? - Quality Of Life, Reviews
Why Does The Brain Deceive Us? - Quality Of Life, Reviews

Video: Why Does The Brain Deceive Us? - Quality Of Life, Reviews

Video: Why Does The Brain Deceive Us? - Quality Of Life, Reviews
Video: After watching this, your brain will not be the same | Lara Boyd | TEDxVancouver 2023, April

Do you want to know what is "cryptomnesia"? How does the brain cheat on our memories? We have addressed the topic of false memories more than once. In this article, for example, biologist, popularizer of science Alexander Panchin talked about how to protect your mind from the introduction of false information. And now we decided to acquaint you with the opinion of Vladimir Yakovlev, who recently wrote the book “Brain Care. A practical guide to caring for the most important organ. "


Are you ready to be surprised at the obvious, but such incredible things, and even supported by research? Then let's start with research.

In February 1971, a lawsuit began in America that went down in history as Bright Tunes Music vs. Harrisongs Music. The record company Bright Tunes Music, which represented the interests of musician Ronnie Mack, accused George Harrison of stealing the song My Sweet Lord from Mack.

Harrison claimed that he did nothing of the kind. But the only problem was that his My Sweet Lord really was like two peas in a pod similar to He's So Fine, written by Mac.

After five years of litigation, Judge Richard Owen agreed that "musically the two songs are virtually identical," and sentenced George Harrison to $ 1.6 million for … "unintentional borrowing"!

And although the expression "unintentional borrowing" sounds strange, in reality it is quite consistent with the mechanisms of the brain. Your brain is quite capable of lying and stealing. And he does it in such a way that you do not realize it and do not even know about it.

"Unintentional borrowing", that is, in fact, theft by the brain of someone else's intellectual property, is so widespread that there is even a special term for this - "cryptomnesia"

Back in 1874, the Swiss psychophysiologist Theodore Flournoy described the state of "unintentional borrowing", or cryptomnesia: "… another type of brain fraud, in which a person cannot determine the source of information coming to him."

The brain steals like this: first, it remembers something heard or seen and stores it in long-term memory, which is inaccessible to us on a conscious level; and then, when you are trying to come up with something similar on a topic or idea, joyfully, out of the best intentions, he slips someone else's, once heard and saved, - why suffer and come up with something when it’s already there? At the same time, you do not have any suspicions, since for you the sensations are no different from the usual creative process.

How often does this happen? More often than we would like. Unconscious borrowing is a common phenomenon in both music and literature. It is believed that even Nabokov borrowed the idea of Lolita from the German writer Heinz von Lichberg. And together with the name of the main character.

Stealing other people's ideas is one of the types of lies that our brain is responsible for. And not the only one. Even more than stealing other people's ideas, the brain loves to create fake, false memories for us

As good as your memory is, it's safe to say that a tangible part of your memories are memories of events that never really happened. Simply because everyone has false memories. This is a completely normal phenomenon, not associated with some kind of memory impairment or impaired brain function.

For example, do you remember anything from very early childhood? Your first toys? Or the feeling of a mother's hands?

If so, here's news for you. The brains of children under three years of age are physically unable to form and store long-term memories. All we remember about this time is false memories. And exactly the same applies to some of your later childhood memories.

The mechanism for generating false memories is fairly simple. If someone tells you a story about the events of your childhood, your brain may well record it not as a story told by someone, but as your personal memory

After all, the story is real! And there are some familiar details in it. For example, friends from photographs - that same sailor suit or beret with a pompom. Or on interior items - that same mug, still alive, is in the buffet.

When parents talk about some events from your childhood, they usually say: “Remember? You must remember this! Well, remember! " And your brain obediently "remembers" - it really should remember such a vivid event. And now this story is sent to storage as your own memory.

This happens when your parents tell you a real story, and when this story has nothing to do with reality.

Yes, your memories can easily be falsified.

In 1995, the American cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus conducted a series of experiments to implant false memories. The experiments involved students and their parents.

Psychologists have agreed in advance with the parents of the participants so that they, under any pretext, tell their adult children several real stories from their childhood and, of course, one fictional one. Such: "Once in childhood you got lost in a big supermarket, you were scared, but you were found and returned to your parents."

Later, during the experiment, psychologists asked the students to recall some stories from their childhood.

25% of students "remembered" how they got lost in a store as a child! Moreover, they added some of their own, additional details to this story. They came up with it.

Later experiments on the Loftus method were repeatedly carried out by various specialists. And not only childhood memories were introduced. In 2002, University of Minnesota psychologist Gardner Linsey succeeded in implanting a false memory of a balloon flight in 50% of subjects.

According to Elizabeth Loftus, the more we trust people from whom we hear a story, the higher the chance that our brain will "privatize" it, turn it into our own memory

Why doesn't our brain resent such falsification? He knows exactly what was, what was not?

No, it is not.

To a large extent, the brain's readiness to create false memories is due to the fact that the brain, in principle, does not distinguish between the imaginary and the real.

American neuroscientist Joe Dispenza studied the brain's reactions to real and imagined events. He conducted such an experiment - he took two groups of volunteers who could not play the piano. One group was taught to play for two hours a day. The second group was asked to simply look at the players and mentally repeat their movements, imagining that they were learning to play the piano.

Two months later, the participants in the experiment were examined on a tomograph. And it turned out that in the brains of all participants, including those who played the piano mentally, new neural connections appeared. The brain's reaction to real and imagined events turned out to be almost the same.

The brain so easily forms false memories because it is brought down by the tendency to order. The brain perceives reality according to templates, a collection of which it has been collecting since childhood. As soon as he saw or smelled something new, it loads the information into memory. There is a signature under each picture. Every smell is labeled.

Subsequently, when you meet something already known to the brain, it recognizes this smell, or this melody, or this image. And if you see something for the first time? Then your brain decomposes a picture, melody or smell into "constituent parts", trying to find analogues from its collection of templates.

"This fruit smells like strawberries and tastes like pineapple," the brain says when it first sees lychee. “And this is an otter with a duck beak, a beaver's tail and the paws of a mole,” the brain immediately understands, examining the picture with a platypus.

In the same way, the brain relates to memories. If somewhere there is a logical inconsistency or difference from the template, this must be filled.

And if there is no suitable real memory, the brain happily creates a false one, looks at its work and "sighs" with relief - well, now it is clear and logical, no contradictions

Your brain will never slip fantastic details or unlikely events into your false memories. He selects from his collection suitable, expected, likely, matching patterns. That is why false memories do not seem to be false at all and are perceived by us as an event that happened in reality.

The brain can create not only false memories, but also false details of real memories. Well, for example, you remember an episode from your childhood - how you learned to ride a bike. Do you remember who gave you a bicycle, who taught you how to ride it. For example, it was an older brother or father. Do you remember what he was wearing? If not, then you can strain yourself - and your brain will definitely remember.

Can't help but remember. After all, a brother or father was wearing something! Couldn't he teach you how to ride a bike naked? Could not! Well?

The brain will frantically rummage through the memory and if it does not find the right memory, it uses the appropriate image, which it took from a black and white photo from the family album.

And you all "remember" at once. My father was in this shirt in a cage when he taught me to skate. What color was it? Wait a minute, the brain will say, now let's paint! And he will select the most suitable colors to match his shirt template of that time.

The problem with false memories or memory details is that they appear to be completely authentic

Otherwise, from the point of view of the brain's work to eliminate contradictions and inconsistencies with stereotypes, there would be no sense in them. Every false detail is carefully checked by the brain for plausibility.

Still would! If a false memory turns out to be implausible, it will not only fail to eliminate logical inconsistencies, but add new ones.

Is there a way to tell false memories from real ones? No. And even a lie detector won't help here. Because to you, these memories are absolutely real

You can, of course, try to find witnesses. But that won't help much either, since all the witness has to offer is his version of the event, formed by his brain. And this version may be even further from reality than yours.

In the seventies, the same Elizabeth Loftus conducted the famous experiment that revealed the true value of testimony. The subjects were shown a video of the traffic accident and then asked what speed they thought the cars involved in the accident were moving.

It turned out that the speed estimate depended on what words the experimenter used when asking the question. If the experimenter used the word “collided,” the witness believed the speed was lower. And if he said "crashed", then - higher.

A week later, all "accident witnesses" were questioned again. Everyone who heard the word "crashed" confidently recalled the broken windshield of one of the cars. Although in reality there was no broken glass on the video.

In one of her speeches, Elizabeth Loftus said: “The memory is like a page on Wikipedia. You can edit it, but other people can do the same."

However, there is still one way to identify false memories. To do this, first of all, you need to immerse yourself as deeply as possible in this memory and try to remember everything in as much detail as possible. For example - concentrate! Remember when you got lost in a store as a kid?

More about this: Yakovlev V. Weiner, Sobe-Panek M. Brain Care: A Practical Guide to Care for the Most Important Organ. M.: Eksmo, 2019.

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