Starting just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, MIT neuroscientist John Gabrieli (who was then at Stanford University) and colleagues around the country undertook a large-scale survey of how people remembered the attacks. For decades, psychologists have theorized that such traumatic events become imprinted into the brain, creating memories much more vivid than our usual everyday ones. However, some studies have shown that these memories are not as accurate as we may believe them to be. Here, Gabrieli, the Grover Hermann Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and Cognitive Neuroscience, discusses what the 9/11 study tells us about such flashbulb memories.
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