That's why it's so important - because it controls so much of what we do, even things that are second nature.
Here are some other facts about our memory and how it works:
- First of all, recalling a memory is more like putting together a puzzle than watching a video. Dr. Larry Squire is a neuro-psychologist, and he says when we retrieve a memory, we piece together fragments to form a complete picture, and we fill in the gaps with what we THINK happened. That's because we're designed to FORGET the details so we have more room to remember overall impressions.
- Another fact? We have a lot of false memories. We can convince ourselves we saw something or other people can convince us that something happened. For example, researchers at UC Irvine told subjects something like this: "Your family told me you became violently ill after eating ice cream once." And 25-percent of the people said they remembered it, even though it never happened.
- That's a big reason why eyewitnesses to a crime aren't reliable. In fact, eyewitness mistakes are behind more than 66-percent of wrongful convictions. And in a police line-up, just telling a witness, "Good job, you picked the guy" can convince them they really did pick the criminal, even if they were unsure at first.
- Here's a memory fact students need to hear: Cramming all night for an exam is about as smart as doing vodka shots all night. If you study for five consecutive hours you won't remember nearly as much as if you study for ONE hour, five nights in a row. Repetition is what helps us remember, and sleep helps solidify those memories.