Most life experienced are fabricated from memories, study says

A new study suggests that most of our life experiences are crafted using past memories.
By Tyler MacDonald | Oct 02, 2019
A new study suggests that how well we remember the events in our lives has a huge impact on our perception of the present and predications of the future.

The Event Memory Retrieval and Comparison Theory (EMRC) underlying the findings suggests that the brain constantly compares sensory information from experiences against models of similar events in the past that are crafted from related memories.

"Memory isn't for trying to remember," said Jeff Zacks of Washington University and senior author of the study. "It's for doing better the next time."

And when the real world doesn't match the "event model," prediction errors increase and lead to a rewiring of the brain to strengthen the memories of the new experience and events in the older model.

"We provide evidence for a theoretical mechanism that explains how people update their memory representations to facilitate their processing of changes in everyday actions of others," said Chris Wahlheim, first author of the study. "These findings may eventually illuminate how the processing of everyday changes influences how people guide their own actions.".

The findings suggest that one of the biggest functions of memory is to retrieve past experiences and connect them to the current environment..

"Our study lends support to the theory that predictions based on old events help us identify changes and encode the new event," Zacks said. "Memories of recent experiences are valuable because they can be used to predict what will happen next in similar situations and help us do better in dealing with what's happening now."

The findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

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