False memory research began over a hundred years ago…. Salvador Dali famously said: “The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: it is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.”
It would be decades until the idea of false memories and memory distortion would be studied properly, and considered to be able to influence confessions. Neuroscientists have looked at brain scans of people having real memories and false memories to see if there’s a difference.
One theory for why our brains come up with false memories is called “Fuzzy trace theory.” The term was coined by researchers Charles Brainerd and Valerie F. Reyna, and was the first theory offered to explain the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm.
Verbatim memory is when we can vividly remember something in detail, whereas gist memories are fuzzy representations of a past event – hence why the theory is called “Fuzzy trace.”
False memories aren’t always cause for concern.
In reality, even though all of us will have manufactured false memories at some point, according to Reyna, we get along just fine.