Thursday, January 19, 2017

Creating false memories helps us to retain ideas.

Most (or perhaps all) societies often pass around the ethos that it is bad to lie. I am not about to argue with this. New research is demonstrating that if you are getting sufficient sleep, your mind is better at creating associative memories. Our brain often uses association to learn new concepts by linking new ideas to memories we already had. At the same time, this additional research can create additional associations that may never have been created through anything they ever heard or saw--false memory.

In recent research, volunteers were given the words "bed," "drowsy," and "dream," and then 30 minutes later were asked what word they could remember. Those people who had attained over 4 hours of sleep the previous night were far more likely to make mention of the word "sleep;" they had synthesized that since the three words actually mentioned were all associated with the word "sleep," that it had been said. It is these associations, (even if they arguably can create "pseudolies") that ultimately can lead to creativity, and imagination.

This brings up the question: should we be thereby encouraging students to be sleeping less so they are truth-telling drones? Absolutely not. The entire mantra of creativity is how students can make discoveries and explore ideas. While I hope all parents and teachers enforce the belief that honesty is required, I find it difficult to believe that false memories, ultimately leading to a greater extent of creativity, have any moral detriment.

To see more on this research by the University of South Australia in Adelaide, please take this link:

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