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The Making of Memory:
How accurate is memory?

Listen to The Making of Memory

Tuesday 8 August 9.00pm repeated Wednesday 4.30pm

This three-part series unravels some of the latest scientific research into how memory works with some of the leading experts in the field. We'll explore fundamental questions such as does our memory have infinite capacity? Why are some people are better at remembering than others? Might drugs already being developed and tested be able to improve our memory? And is there a genetic cause to dementia or is it down to our lifestyle choices?

Whilst our memories can be a reliable asset - they can deceive us badly. This programme explores how much we can trust our memories and what happens when they are called on to recall important information in, for example, a court of law? How easily can our memories for important events be manipulated without us realising it?

Professor Elizabeth Loftus, recently listed at the most influential female psychologist of all time, has spent many years researching the fallibility of memory. Her breakthrough came when she deliberately planted false memories of highly charged events into subjects without them realising it.

The research has had enormous legal repercussions and has questioned some of our most basic assumptions about the mind. Also in this programme, is déjâ vu a glitch or a sign that the mind does indeed have supernatural powers? Is this just another example of the mind's fragility?


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I have just listened to your programme: the Making of Memory: How Accurate is Memory? with an increasingly sick feeling. It only gave one side of the argument, the "memory is inaccuarte/fragile" side, which is based mainly on experiments which deliberately try to mislead and plant false memories. There is another side to this argument which was not put - though I have hopes that it might be covered in the next programme. For those of us struggling to come to terms with traumatic childhood memories which are constantly being denied or belittled, to hear experts once again saying that generally memory can not be relied upon without any counter comment, is hard and extremely distressing.

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