How Reliable Is Our Memory?

We rely heavily on memory for everyday life.

Everything from performing at our jobs, partaking in academic tasks, or just remembering how to get home requires a competent, functioning memory.

However, numerous studies in psychology have indicated that memories can be created and distorted. So how reliable is our memory?

How Reliable Is Our Memory?

Are Memories 100% Accurate?

Human memory is notoriously unreliable, especially when it comes to the details.

Scientists have found that prompting an eyewitness to remember more can generate details that are false but that feel just as correct to the witness as actual memories.

How Do I Know If My Memory Is Real?

Usually the only way to know if your memory is false or real is to corroborate your story with other people or research.

For example if you remember a saying a certain way, you can look it up from a reliable site or sites, or attempt to confirm it with others.

At What Age Are Memories Reliable?

On average the earliest memories that people can recall point back to when they were just 2.5 years old, a new study has suggested. (Source:

Why Can’t I Tell If A Memory Is Real?

There is currently no way to actually distinguish, in the absence of independent evidence, whether a particular memory is true or false.

Even memories which are detailed and vivid and held with 100 percent conviction can sometimes be completely false.

Are There People Who Can’t Forget?

Hyperthymesia is an ability that allows people to remember nearly every event of their life with great precision. 

Hyperthymesia is rare, with research identifying only a small number of people with the ability. Studies on hyperthymesia are ongoing, as scientists attempt to understand how the brain processes memories.

Actress Marilu Henner is one such person shown to have hyperthymesia, having a highly superior autobiographical memory, a rare condition identified in only 100 people worldwide.

Give her a random date in the past and she can recall it with unbelievable clarity. This trait has driven her to advocate for more funding for brain research.

How Long Can A Human Remember?

We retain different types of memories for different lengths of time. 

Short-term memories last seconds to hours, while long-term memories can last for years.

We also have a working memory, which enables us keep something in our minds for a limited time by repeating it. (Source:

How Does Memory Affect Depression?

Depressed individuals can often show poor memory for positive events, heightened memory for negative events, and impaired recollection.(Source:

How Does Anxiety Impact Memory?

When our body reacts to real or perceived threats, electrical activity in the brain increases and produces adrenaline and cortisol. 

Memory loss can result if that process occurs when fear or anxiety is excessive or persists for longer periods of time.

How Does Stress Affect Memory?

Stress affects memory in a time-dependent manner, often enhancing memory formation around the time of the stressful encounter, but impairing memory retrieval long after the stressful event. (Source:

Can A Memory Trigger Anxiety?

A memory might trigger physical symptoms of anxiety or fear.

For example, you may experience sweating, trembling, shaking, increased heart rate, and rapid breathing.

Why Can’t I Remember Most Of My Childhood?

It can be normal not to remember much of your early years.

It’s known as infantile amnesia. Although kids’ brains are like little sponges, soaking in all that information and experience, we might take relatively few memories of it into adulthood.

Do Smarter People Have Better Memories?

People with high IQ test scores remembered first and second memories at an earlier age than did those with lower IQ test scores. (Source:

Can Humans Run Out Of Memory?

Although there is technically a physical limit to how many memories we can store, it is extremely large. We won’t have to worry about running out of space in our lifetime. (Source:

Final Thoughts:

As vivid and fascinating as memory can be sometimes, how precise is it really?

Our intuition might say that memory is very precise, but the facts sometimes say otherwise.

A negative memory might affect how we feel, think, or behave.

Challenge your own memories or beliefs about certain life events that have dragged you down in the past.

Thanks for reading, please comment or follow the links.

Read More:

What Are The Flaws Of The Brain

The Wonders Of The Human Body

Why Positive Thinking Is Important

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