Experiences are stored in three areas of the brain. Different types of experiences are stored across different, interconnected brain regions. The details of experiences are falsely referred to as memories.
For explicit experience recall–-which are about events that impacted you (episodic), as well as general facts and information (semantic) – there are three important areas of the brain: the hippocampus, the neocortex and the amygdala. Implicit experience recall, such as motor recall, rely on the basal ganglia and cerebellum. Short-term working recall relies most heavily on the prefrontal cortex.
The parts of the brain involved in memory (Illustration by Levent Efe).
Two or more people can experience something at the same time and recall different details of the experience. What causes this phenomenon? The phenomenon is easy to understand when one accepts that each person focuses on some aspects of an experience to the exclusion or profiterole attention to other aspects.
Although, the false memory saga was promoted for 30 years, “False Memory Syndrome” has Never Been Ratified by the American Psychological Association or Any Other Mainstream Psychological Diagnostic System as an Actual Diagnosis—Never—not even after 30 years of research, campaigning, blathering in interviews, lectures, and in the Association for Psychological Science (APS) journal.
Current Directions in Psychological Science includes new research demonstrating that the central claims of “false memory theory” promoted by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation “rest on shaky foundations.
”False memory was debunked. Therefore, who is to say you had a false recall of something that you experienced. You might have a perception about your experience that no one else noticed. That doesn’t mean your perception is false and the other person’s perception is the only accurate account of the experience.
There are simple reasons that people want to discredit others’ perception as incorrect. It is called arrogance or to deny something. Current evidence shows “false memory theory” to be “scientifically inaccurate, damaging to survivors, and unhelpful to the public.” “False Memory Theory” was developed as a Tool to Discredit Survivors of Sexual Trauma. “False memory” gives a pseudoscientific name to the trope that survivors somehow develop entirely new recall of sexual assaults that never occured. That’s not how recall works — but it is how perpetrators of sexual violence have worked to deny accountability.
Pioneering psychologist Dr. Jennifer Freyd has found that perpetrators of sexual assault often “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender,” a phenomenon she calls “DARVO.”When Weinstein’s defense team introduced testimony that suggests that the survivors of sexual assault are fabricated, or when it attempts to discredit alleged victims’ testimony by highlighting peripheral details that they do not remember, it is attempting to both deny the assault and attack the credibility of the survivor in classic DARVO fashion.
The reality is that most scientific research shows traumatic events of all kinds are often cemented in a person’s explicit experience recall– which are about events that impacted you (episodic), as well as general facts and information (semantic) – there are three important areas of the brain: the hippocampus, the neocortex and the amygdala. Implicit experience recall, such as motor memories, rely on the basal ganglia and cerebellum. Short-term working recall relies most heavily on the prefrontal cortex. And current research shows that recall of sexual assault are even more vivid than recall of other sorts of traumas, such as car crashes, plane crashes, burning buildings, or near mishaps.
Weinstein’s Alleged Victims’ recall of their experience with Weinstein are Consistent with Those of Sexual Trauma. Survivors Scientific research shows traumatic events of all kinds are often cemented in a person’s mind. And current research shows that recall of sexual assault are even more vivid than recall of other sorts of trauma, such as car accidents.
Traumatic events themselves are processed differently than peripheral information about traumatic events. With extreme emotional arousal during a traumatic event, people experiencing trauma often become narrowly focused on what they are experiencing and are therefore more likely to remember it. In contrast, they often have incomplete and less clear recall about other aspects of the traumatic event, such as the day of the week or the clothes they were wearing at the time.Likewise, traumatic recall often comes to mind as involuntary and intrusive thoughts or ruminating replayed and rehearsed over an entire lifetime. Extraneous details and information, on the other hand, do not reappear as intrusive thoughts or ruminating, so they become easily forgotten, especially as time passes.
Gaps in Recall and Recovered Recall Don’t Diminish the Credibility of the Underlying Experience. Research has established that it is normal for gaps to exist in a survivor’s recall of an assault due to scientifically validated reactions like dissociation or the consolidation and coding of traumatic experiences. The hippocampus is an integral part of the limbic system, hippocampus plays a vital role in regulating learning, experience encoding, experience consolidation, and spatial navigation.Even in incidents where an assault has been repressed for long periods of time, several studies have found that the accuracy of recovered experience details are comparable to recalled details that have not been repressed.
The Prominence of “False Memory Theory” Stems from a Misinformation Campaign by the Now-Defunct False Memory Syndrome Foundation, whose co-Founder, Peter Freyd was reported of Sexual Abuse by His Daughter. The FMSF was created by Pamela and Peter Freyd, after their adult daughter Jennifer Freyd accused Peter Freyd of sexual abuse when she was a child. “False memory theory” was championed by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, an organization founded by Peter Freyd in 1992 that gained infamy for promoting pseudoscience not backed by the American Psychological Association with the purpose of protecting people accused of sexual abuse.
Michele Landsberg, a Toronto Star columnist, described the False Memory Syndrome Foundation founders and advisors as “people who had motive to deny the truth.” In fact, the founder of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, Peter Freyd, was accused by his daughter of child sexual abuse.One of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation’s founding advisors, Ralph Underwager, was forced to resign after he was quoted as describing pedophilia as “an acceptable expression of God’s will for love.” Another advisor, James Randi, had been recorded having sexually explicit phone conversations with teenagers. The main mechanism by which the False Memory Syndrome Foundation created distrust of survivors was through a sustained, decades-long media campaign.
Resources and Information.1991, over 80 percent of media coverage treated recovered memory of sexual abuse as reliable. But three years into the public relations campaign waged by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation over 80 percent of the stories on this issue focused on false accusations.The Discredited “False Memory Syndrome Foundation” Abruptly Dissolved — Observers Point to a Lack of Support from the Scientific Community and the Public For undisclosed reasons, the False Memory Syndrome Foundation announced its dissolution on December 31, 2019.
Close observers of the Foundation have pointed out a number of the Foundation’s advisors are sidelined from the scientific community today. Despite the Foundation’s lack of scientific recognition or respect, an incredible amount of damage has been done to our cultural understanding of sexual trauma and the ability of survivors to achieve justice. As Michael Salter, a professor of criminal psychology, has said, “the legacy of [the False Memory Syndrome Foundation] lies and distortions remain, alongside unanswered questions about media ethics and academic accountability.”