Brain Drain

Think fast: what’d you have for breakfast?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Whether recalling mom’s birthday or where you set your keys down, memory can be fuzzy. But we should be able to remember something we just saw, right? Turns out, even very new memories may be unreliable. Whaaaat?…!

Enter Marte Otten from the University of Amsterdam and team.

They gave over three hundred participants memory tests. Why? To study how memories are formed and what can interfere with them. 

In one test, they presented letters, both regular and reversed. Participants had the most trouble recalling reversed letters, even though they just saw them. They chose regular letters, not reversed. This resulted in almost twenty percent more errors when viewing reversed letters. Meaning, their expectations hijacked what they’d really seen!

This suggests previous knowledge may interfere with recent memory. We’re closer than ever to understanding memory and how it changes over time. 

Now the real test: what question did I ask at the beginning? Blueberry Waffles!


Otten M, Seth AK, Pinto Y (2023) Seeing Ɔ, remembering C: Illusions in short-term memory. PLoS ONE 18(4): e0283257.