From the past couple of lessons, the one thing that stuck out to me the most was the segment on flashbulb memories. As soon as I read the definition, a wave of memories came back to me, two in particular, as being life changing: the death of my father and the birth of my sister, the worst day of my life and the most amazing day of my life. While I don’t particularly wish to remember the first one, the birth of my sister was an amazing event that I will never ever forget. I remember every single detail of that day, from what I was wearing to how I felt. Also, my sister makes me tell her every now and then because she likes the story, another way to make sure that I never forget, not like I ever could.
A flashbulb memory is defined as a vividly detailed memory of the circumstances under which one first learned of a surprising, consequential, emotionally involving event (Kihlstrom, 2013). It is a memory that is stored on one occasion and retained for a lifetime. What makes these memories different than all of the other memories that are stored in our mind is the emotional charge behind it. The link between memory and emotion caused by a flashbulb memory is what gives us the ability to recall the details of the event. The emotional process involves the amygdala, which is part of the limbic system, located near the hippocampus (Goldstein, 2011), which is important for the emotional content of new memories. However, like with all memory, except eidetic memory of course, I found it interesting that even flashbulb memories, no matter how traumatic or wonderful or shocking they may have been are still flawed. The memories are not actually as accurate as we think that they are and the gaps still get filled in by consulting with peers. Take an event such as 9/11, according to researchers, even having been there and experienced it first hand, a lot of the memories are filled in by what you read in the news or saw on TV following the event, but the forgetting curve and the recall curve is far less affected by time than is the case for other types of memories (Markham, 2014).
With all of that said, looking back I still feel as though I remember every moment, every detail of August 3, 2000. From the moment my father called me to tell me that my mom was in labor, to the car ride over to the hospital, to the waiting, and waiting, and finally the nurse bringing out my little sister and getting to see her for the first time. I remember every detail of her, every wrinkle, every hair on her head, I remember like it was yesterday and I know that details like that cannot be made up or filled in by anyone else. The first time that I met my sister was the happiest day of my life, and it is not a memory that will soon be forgotten.
Kihlstrom, J. (2013). Flashbulb Memories. University of California Berkley. Retrieved from http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~kihlstrm/flashbulb.htm
Goldstein, B. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience (3rd edition). Wadsworth, Inc.
Markham, A. (2014). Flashbulb Memory. University of Illinois at Chicago. Retrieved from: https://www.uic.edu/classes/comm/comm200am/teamprojects/MemoryTechnologies/Flashbulb_Memory.htm