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LIKE A CONCEPT FROM the movie Inception, Australian scientists have found that memories can be altered by suggestion from other people. A University of Sydney study has shown that memories of an event can be amended or added to if people discuss their recollections with another witness. The findings have implications for the way police conduct interviews. "People sometimes find it difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between genuine memories and false memories of an event," says lead researcher and forensic psychologist Helen Paterson.
Read more: www.australiangeographic.com.au...
The idea of doctors having the power to wipe the memory clean sends shivers down many people's spines. False memories could safely be erased, perhaps, assuming there was a reliable way of differentiating them from true ones. Although brain-imaging techniques highlight some differences in patterns of brain activation when a person recalls a true as opposed to a false memory, these are statistical differences only. "We are so far away from being able to use these techniques to reliably classify a single memory as being real or not real," says Loftus, "Yet that is what the courts have to do."