Recalling the past: Memory as a game of telephone

What would it mean to think of memories, not as something we retrieve, but as something we continually recreate? What if a memory is sensitive to the immediate context in which we remember it? How do these newer versions of a memory affect the original memory?

And if all the information in our brains is essentially some form of memory, then is everything we know constantly adapting to our everyday cognitive activities?

Remember the telephone game where people take turns whispering a message into the ear of the next person in line? By the time the last person speaks it out loud, the message has radically changed. It’s been altered with each retelling.

Turns out your memory is a lot like the telephone game…

Every time you remember an event from the past, your brain networks change in ways that can alter the later recall of the event. Thus, the next time you remember it, you might recall not the original event but what you remembered the previous time.

Your memory is like the telephone | Marla Paul


Neural Correlates of Reactivation and Retrieval-Induced Distortion | Donna J. Bridge • Ken A. Paller