One of the delicious ironies of memory is that, even when our recollections are utterly false, they still feel true. Consider this wonderful tale from the upcoming season of This American Life (I’ve loved the first two episodes, by the way):
Or as Proust put it: “How paradoxical it is to seek in reality for the pictures that are stored in one’s memory…The memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment; and houses, roads, avenues are as fugitive, alas, as the years.” That bleak view of memory jives with lots of recent work looking at the cellular reconsolidation of memory, or how the act of remembering a memory changes the memory itself. (To make a long story short, remembering also requires protein synthesis.) This means, of course, that the more you remember something, the less accurate the memory becomes.