Thursday, 27 February 2014

Adding information

The images pinned to my mental calendar as memory tags are providing a way to capture not only what I was doing on that day, but other key information I would like to remember.

This includes the names of friends' children, types of trees and jokes (see past posts).

Sometimes, however, I have to add the information after the event.

I was reminded of this yesterday, Wednesday 26 February 2014, as I went through the memory tags for each Tuesday and Wednesday of the past 6 months in my morning review.

On Wednesday 16 October 2013, my wife and I met my mother at a garden centre for lunch and shopping. They did not have what she wanted so we went on to another one I had not visited before. I included this in my memory tag that night, but could not remember the name of the second garden centre.

Passing by a couple of weeks later, I constructed a mnemonic to remember the name and added that to the memory tag retrospectively.

Now whenever I think of that day, I remember the name of the garden centre.

This is powerful, but it troubles me as it is, in a sense, a false memory. I did not record the name when I visited. Now I can think of my mother suggesting we go on to this second garden centre and hear her saying the name. But until I saw the name again, I couldn't retrieve this information by thinking back to that same scene.

It is something police forces and juries have to be aware of when assessing the reliability of witnesses: are they remembering something from the time it allegedly happened or have they, even unwittingly, added the information to their memory after the event?

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