Can We Trust Our Own Memories?

In the article entitled “Memories of Things Unseen,” Elizabeth F. Lotus of the University of California Irvine addresses the subject of false memories, examining how such false memories can be created and implanted in subjects in the research context and how real-world events can alter the encoding and retrieval of memories. Loftus goes on to explore the implications of her research into false memories, noting that such memories can have significant and sometimes terrible consequences for those who are affected by them. In order to demonstrate how false memories can be created, Loftus uses several examples from various research studies that use a number of techniques to implant false memories in subjects. The article concludes with a brief discussion about the nature of memory, and how even genuine memories are never exact, but are, as one researcher describes them, “imaginative reconstruction(s)” of events (Loftus, 2004).