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Science AMA Series: I’m Dr. Julia Shaw, a memory scientist and criminal psychologist, back to discuss how we create complex false memories and my new book on it. AMA!
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SIGNING OFF. It’s 8:50pm. What a great way to spend three hours! If you still desperately want your questions answered and I could not get to you, they are probably addressed in my book “The Memory Illusion”… or you can Tweet me your question @drjuliashaw or email me through my website www.drjuliashaw.com Over and out, Julia I also encourage you to take a peek my last AMA favourites post, because I have probably already answered some of your questions!: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/how-false-memory-changes-what-happened-yesterday/ Hi Reddit! I really enjoyed my last AMA and I’ve come back for another to coincide with the publication of my book The Memory Illusion on June 16th. You can watch a trailer about it here: https://youtu.be/72dhjGWB0gg I study how we can create incredibly detailed memories of things that never actually happened. In particular, I implant rich false memories of committing crime with police contact and other highly emotional autobiographical events. I thought I’d share my work with the community since I’m an avid Redditor. The technique I use in my research is essentially a combination of what’s called “mis-information” (telling people convincingly that something happened that didn’t) and an imagination exercise which makes a participant picture the event happening. The goal is to get my participants to confuse their imagination with their memory. I find, as do many other scientists who study memory, that it is often surprisingly easy to implant memories. All of my participants are healthy young adults, and in my last study 70% of them were classified as having formed these full false memories of crime by the end of the study. I am currently working on further research and analysis to see whether I can replicate this, since this success rate was incredibly high. Last year some of this research, which I did with Stephen Porter at UBC, went viral. It was so amazing to see such a great reaction from the press and public. There really seems to be a thirst for wanting to understand our faulty memories. You can see my favourite write up of the research here. In “Memory Hackers,” a NOVA documentary that aired on PBS, you can actually see some real footage from the videos that I made during the interviews, which you can see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfPLTtlo2oY My book, The Memory Illusion, is the first popular science book of its kind, and I’m super excited about it! If you find my research interesting you’ll definitely like the book. The book will be released in 12 languages over the next year (English, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, Turkish, Russian, Czech, and Serbian). I’ve put a couple of links below. The eagle-eyed of you should spot a few Reddit references throughout my book when you read it, along with some Easter eggs, including my favourite Kurt Vonnegut quote (very) hidden in the text! UK: http://bit.ly/MemoryIllusion US: http://bit.ly/MemoryIllusionUS English language version internationally: http://bit.ly/TMIinternational If you want to know more about me and my science, and get free access to all the research I have published to date, go here: http://www.drjuliashaw.com/ Read my Scientific American contributions (almost all of which focus on memory errors) here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/search/?q=julia+shaw Follow me on Twitter: @drjuliashaw Proof Julia