Making Memories

A shop for memories

A shop for memories

Exploring how we invent stories—and then stick to them—confounds journalists and scientists alike: how can we separate fictions from fact?

I am keenly interested in how we make decisions—especially decisions built on information we gather from media that affect how we think about health and science.

Such information is the foundation for memory.

A story from National Public Radio today explores how memories may not be what we think.

In other words, we reinvent memories, and the recreations take up real estate in our brains.

Rachel Martin reports we typically think of memories as a video recorder that metaphorically captures the narrative and stores it in our gray matter.

Turns out we reframe our memories, according to researcher Charles Fernyhough.

I’m guessing the rationale for the reframing is that we want our memories to align with the stories we create about ourselves for ourselves.

So we mould what we imagine happened to conform with current beliefs.

Ask yourself: how do your earliest memories speak to who you are now? Do they define who you are?

My earliest memory is being carried home in my father’s arms from a neighbor’s house. I was cranky and tired. The camera in my head sees my red canvas shoes. I watch the untied shoe-laces bounce up and down, bundled in strong arms.

Rachel Martin at NPR invites you to share your earliest memory in 140 words or less by tweeting her at @rachelnpr

Listen to the NPR story at


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
This entry was posted in authenticity, framing, health, Indian, journalism, neuroscience, science, science communication, writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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