Sharing stories helps to retrieve memories

New York, Sep 11 (IANS) Retrieving memories, like sharing incidents with one another, helps in reinforcing remembrance of an event, says a study.

People do, in fact, synchronise what they remember and what they forget after sharing memories with one another, according to researchers from Princeton University at New Jersey, in the US.

Known as mnemonic convergence, these collective memories are influenced both by a person recalling information and by those individuals sharing memories within a group.

“Keep practising that information. Send repeated messages into the community. If people care about the topic, they are going to talk to one another about it and by spreading the accurate information, psychological research shows, they will likely forget about the misconception,” Assistant Professor at the Princeton University Alin Coman said in the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers recruited 140 participants to conduct the study and were grouped into 10-member communities and used a program called Software Platform for Human Interaction Experiments (SoPHIE) to communicate.

“We designed this software platform to expedite the communication process. All phases of the study took about 30 to 40 minutes for each group to complete. It’s a very fast way to have these people communicate, and computer chatting makes this much more standardised. We were able to control the network structure and properly study it,” Coman added.

In the first phase of the study, participants read four random pieces of information about different volunteers and afterward they were asked to remember the information they studied.

Next, participants chatted online with one another about the stories. Each participant chatted with three different people in two-and-a-half-minute conversations.

Following the conversations, each participant was asked to remember the information originally presented about the volunteers. As in the second phase, they were given the name of each volunteer as a cue.

Based on both recall phases, the researchers calculated how similar the individual memories were within each 10-member community.

The results were in alignment with what the researchers had predicted: conversationally sharing stories with others influences the degree to which individuals of a group end up remembering the story in similar ways.

“Our study shows that when we talk about memories of collectively experienced events with others, we start remembering these memories in similar ways. Importantly, as a group, we also tend to forget the same information following these conversations. We are, in essence, synchronising our memories at a community level,” Coman said.

–IANS

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