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The Neuroscience of Memory - Eleanor Maguire

The Royal Institution Follow
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  • 6 years ago
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There are two demos in this talk that you can try at home exploring how we perceive and recollect visual scenes:

1. Image distance demo:
You are given a 3 second countdown before seeing a quick sequence of two pictures of the same object, divided briefly by a visual mask. The challenge is to identify whether the second picture is the same view as the first, or whether it's moved closer or further away. Try it yourself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdzmNwTLakg&t=6m56s

2. Drawing from memory demo:
You have 15 seconds to look at a picture, which you'll then be asked to draw, as accurately as possible, from memory. Try it now http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdzmNwTLakg&t=35m20s


Our memories are our lives, and a fundamental basis of our culture. Collective memoirs of the past both bind society together and shape our potential future. With our brains we can travel through time and space, calling to mind places of significance, evoking images and emotions of past experiences. It's no wonder, then, that we so desperately fear the prospect of memory loss.

Many regions of the brain are involved in memory, but one of the most critical components is the hippocampus, which plays a crucial role in the formation of long-term memories. Damage to the hippocampus can therefore result in significant memory loss.

In this Friday Evening Discourse, Eleanor Maguire draws on evidence from virtual reality, brain imaging and studies of amnesia to show that the consequences of hippocampal damage are even more far-reaching than suspected, robbing us of our past, our imagination and altering our perception of the world.

Maguire also explains how, despite our beliefs, our memories are not actually as accurate as you might think. In fact, they're not really even about the past.

This event is part of our all-women line up for Friday Evening Discourses in 2014 as part of our year long celebration of women in science. Find out more here http://www.rigb.org/about/news/spring-2014/2014-friday-evening-discourses

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Thumbnail image credit: Gontzal García del Caño on Flickr
(http://www.flickr.com/photos/euskalanato/2052487054)
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