Even for the youngest and healthiest person, memory does not fix all the details from the past, however, at the moment when they need to be remembered, the missing episodes are replaced by images of recent events. This became clear after an experiment conducted by neurologists at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Seventeen volunteers were shown 168 objects on a computer screen. Each object was located in a different part of the screen against a different background: it could be a mountain landscape, an underwater world, forests, fields, and so on. At the second stage, the objects were shown the same, but each of them had a different splash screen. Nobody was able to arrange the objects exactly in the places where they were at the first stage of the experiment.
Then the participants of the experiment were shown three versions of the same items: the original version, a completely new version, and the one that they themselves proposed in the second stage. The volunteers were asked to find an initial version of the three presented. The participants in the experiment - men and women of different ages - did not cope with this task either. They chose their erroneous version as the "original" one. That is, scientists explain that the memory inserted fresh information into the memory. This effect is driven by the brain's need to constantly adapt to a changing environment, so the newest memories are prioritized.
The research results can be useful primarily in forensic science: for example, when recording witness testimony during the investigation. Obviously, even witnesses who have sworn to tell the truth provide incorrect information. At the same time, the lie detector will also show that they are telling the truth, since the hippocampus - the part of the limbic system of the brain responsible for memory consolidation - has already edited the memories.