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"How Trauma and Time Alter The Way We Recollect Significant Events" - Benedict Carey and Jan Hoffman

  • The New York Times
  • New York, NY
  • (September 25, 2018)

When Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford present their vastly different recollections to the Senate on Thursday, the quality and reliability of memory itself will be on trial. The biology of memory, while still far from worked out, helps explain how vastly different accounts can emerge from a shared experience. Memory, by its nature and necessity, is selective, its details subject to revision and dissipation. For a trauma victim, this encoding combines mortal fear and heart-racing panic with crystalline fragments of detail: the make of the gun, the color of the attacker’s eyes. The emotion is so strong that the fragments can become untethered from time and place. “In situations of high arousal, the brain is flooded with hormones that strengthen those things you’re paying attention to,” said Daniela Schiller, PhD, a neuroscientist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “But other details are less accessible.”

- Daniela Schiller, PhD, Associate Professor, Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

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