Researchers from UC Irvine have found that people with extraordinarily accurate memory are as vulnerable to the inception of fake memories as others, indicating that perhaps nobody is protected from memory distortion. The study, published last month inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, focused on people with highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM), who are able to recall highly specific facts about their lives, like what they ate for lunch, going all the way back to their childhood.
In one test, subjects were falsely told that news footage captured the plane crash of United 93 in Pennsylvania on September 11th, 2001. The researches found that when asked if they had seen the footage before, 20 percent of subjects with HSAM said they had, compared to 29 percent of people with normal memory. In other tests including false narratives, people with HSAM said they remembered the false facts about as much as people with normal memory.
The results echo earlier scientific studies about the implantation of false memories. The consequences are far reaching and impact our ability to trust things like eyewitness reports, which are vital for historical, journalistic, and legal matters.
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