Our short-term memory constantly lies - but it helps us survive

Scientists have proven that short-term memory deliberately deceives us by creating tricks that allow us to better recognize what we see in the world around us. The deception begins when we see something a second time. Our brain partially distorts the image so that we can recognize the original object, even if it has moved in space or has somehow changed.

An example is the process of crossing a road - you look to the left and see a car, and then turn your head to the right. Then look to the left again and see the same car, even if in a different position and light. This recognition seems simple to us, but in fact the brain needs to perform many operations in order to understand that this is the same machine. Otherwise, we would constantly perceive the situation as completely new, looking at it a second time. That is, the car would appear “out of nowhere” for us every time.

The fact that information is tailored by the brain is not new, but psychologist Christoph Bledowski of the Goethe University in Germany and his colleagues have made significant advances in the study of this phenomenon. In a four-part experiment, they asked 109 participants to track the movements of red and green dots on a monitor, the position and speed of which were constantly changing. The analysis showed that what the participants "saw" in the subsequent series of the experiment was quite clearly predetermined by what they saw in the first.

Our short-term memory reacts to contextual factors - the direction of movement of an object, its color and spatial position - and makes deliberate "corrections". Previous research has already shown that our brains do a similar trick on faces. The idea that memory is tricking us shouldn't come as a surprise - our brain is an expert at creating false memories, for example, it tends to erase painful experiences. After all, such "false" memories help us navigate the world and survive.