The Optimism Bias Sharot Analysis

1416 Words 6 Pages
Tali Sharot in, The Optimism Bias, delves into the human brain and brings up a collection of scientific experiments relating to our brain's responses to various stimuli. One of her most compelling arguments was in opposition to the reliability of the human’s ability to recall and recount information; she questioned age-old theories of flashbulb memories, that claim emotion enhances memory, and finds a gap between her subjects confidence and their ultimate performance. This essay is going to try and explain how memory works and delve into how flexible and responsive our memory is when acted upon by outside forces, and ultimately explain why our memory is, as Sharot discussed, completely unreliable.
Memory is a skill used by the majority of
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The hippocampus directly stores memories we have and make, the amygdala processes emotional stimuli to various outside scenarios, and the ACC regulates amygdala activity (Sharot 33, 37, 89, 103). All of these are said to affect how accurate and detailed our memories are. For example, on 9/11 people that were physically closer to the World Trade Center during the destruction had higher activity in their amygdala when recounting the events of that day (Sharot 166). By observing the hippocampi, psychoanalysts have also found how it relates directly to memory and can grow and adapt to circumstances. In a study done by various scientists, it was found that cab drivers, who have to memorize all of the streets and routes, have physically larger hippocampi as they stay in said job-the longer they stayed the larger their hippocampi (Cognitive Level of Analysis).
Just using those two examples it is clear that even at the root of our brain there are physical changes that can affect how our memory works but, our memory is almost equally susceptible to
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Our emotions are said to be able to change our memories, or rather, the confidence we have in our memories. Flashbulb memories, memories that can be remembered with more detail and accuracy because of their emotional importance in a specific person’s life are often defined by the increase in amygdala activity. David Ludden who has a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology writes, “Half a century of research on flashbulb memories shows us that they don’t remain consistent from one retelling to the next”. However, it seems to be much deeper than that. Tali Sharot writes about how when experiencing a highly emotional moment our brain, rather than focusing on specific surrounding details more, actually zones into the one focal point that is responsible for causing such a response, for example, one would focus on the World Trade Center collapsing rather than the person beside them or the name of the street they were on (Sharot 166). The largest effect emotion has on our ability to remember has less to do with enhancing the specifics of the recapturing and more to do with our level of confidence in our

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