“….or has time rewritten every line?”

February 5, 2014

I thought of this lyric snippet after reading a story in the Detroit Free Press. The story was titled, “Your brain often edits that trip down memory lane.” Audience members who saw Twelve Angry Men either on stage or on the silver screen might remember how the seemingly airtight memory of a key eyewitness fell apart under jury room scrutiny.

But the Free Press article talks about our capacity to alter our own memories.

“A memory isn’t a static thing,” said Joel Voss, a researcher at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “Every time you retrieve it, you have the ability to modify it.”

This reminds me of videos I’ve seen where people use a tapping technique to help them reframe a troubling memory. Under the guidance of a therapist, people quickly learn a way to take the emotional edge off of a troubling memory. Some therapists also use video game simulation techniques to help soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.  In the virtual world, under the watchful eye of a therapist, a soldier can relive a disturbing war experience…and then learn to reframe it.  These techniques seem to take advantage of the research findings mentioned in the Free Press. We’re not robots…memory in, memory out. We can learn to reinterpret or reframe our memories based on new knowledge.

To me, that’s a very reassuring thought.


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