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MEMORIES MAY BE VIVID, BUT PERHAPS NOT ACCURATE

Do you remember what you were doing when you first heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001? Where you were when you heard about the Challenger explosion? Who first told you about JFK's assassination?

Most people have vivid memories of emotional events. Psychologists have long suggested that emotions are like a camera flash -- they imprint memories on the brain that last a lifetime.

But a growing body of research suggests the sense of vividness associated with emotional memories is, in fact, unrelated to how accurately people remember those events. In a sophisticated brain imaging study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers at New York University showed, in fact, that different brain areas are involved in recalling events and in feeling that such memories are vivid.

"People have the sense their memories are accurate and detailed and vivid," said Elizabeth A. Phelps, a professor at NYU, referring to highly emotional events such as Sept. 11. "That subjective feeling may not be indicative of the actual accuracy."

-- Washington Post

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