Monthly Archives: November 2015

CTE = Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

This is personal topic to me. My husband and many other veterans are trying to live a normal life, after a traumatic brain injury, and the research is still so very new, that we don’t know much about it.

CTE or chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative brain disease that is once again making the news. Over the past few years many football players and combat veterans have been diagnosed posthumously with this disease, as it can’t be diagnosed while the patient is alive. Junior Seau, who was a hometown hero of mine, playing for my San Diego Chargers, was diagnosed with CTE after he committed suicide in 2012, and most recently Frank Gifford showed signs of CTE.

Those with CTE show symptoms in some of the areas we have discussed and learned about in this course. Some of these symptoms are: deterioration of attention and concentration, poor judgment, lack of insight, social instability, erratic behavior, aggression, depression, suicide, and memory loss (Ziegler, T). These injuries to the brain are caused by concussions, or traumatic brain injury. At this time it’s not known what the magic number is, or how many concussions are too many. What comes into play is the amount of concussions, the severity of the concussions, are some athletes more prone to CTE than others, and obviously not every individual is the same.

Atrophy of the frontal lobe is often caused by CTE. This is the area of the brain that affects decision-making, planning and memory retrieval. Another cognitive area that is affected by CTE is the Hippocampus, which is involved in memory function as well (Ziegler, T). All of these effects are what lead to the instability of the individual and in some cases unreasonable decision making resulting in suicide.

The reason why I chose to investigate this disease further is because I was curious about the lack of decision making, and memory. Also, being a wife to a retired United States Army Veteran who has seen combat, and all those he served with. The amount of combat veterans committing suicide is at a ridiculous rate, and while we know that many of the causes are linked to PTSD, the area of CTE needs to be examined further. Research shows that these types of brain injuries lead to erratic behavior and suicide, and at this time there is no help for that. While we can find help on the mental health side of PTSD there is still much to be learned about CTE and the effects that it has on the mind.






Ziegler, T. (n.d.). Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) – SportsMD. Retrieved November 19, 2015, from


How reliable is “eyewitness” testimony?

According to The Innocence Project, when looking at their first 325 DNA exonerations, nearly three-quarters (72%) of the wrongful conviction cases were due to eyewitness misidentification. A scary thought. In the latter part of 2011, the New Jersey Supreme Court joined a growing list of institutions who were calling into question the use of eyewitness identification in criminal trials. The unanimously passed ruling by the New Jersey court noted that this type of evidence suffered from a “troubling lack of reliability” and called for the revision of the tests used to measure eyewitness reliability. The issue was taken up by the United States Supreme Court in November 2011.

The New Jersey court’s decision was based on recent scientific studies and was brought on by the 2004 case of Larry Henderson. Convicted of manslaughter, Henderson’s lawyers later argued that police involved in the investigation exploited the flawed memories of witnesses through suggestibility by influencing identification efforts with subtle suggestions aimed at leading witnesses towards falsely identifying Henderson as the killer. The ruling by the New Jersey court is a recognition of the fact that our memories are not videotaped playbacks of the past. In fact, memory is easily influenced and therefore fallible.

There are many factors that make eyewitness testimony far from fail-safe. Suggestibility which I mentioned previously is one of the most concerning. Identifying faces is already a difficult task. The difficulty increases when the high emotions present during crimes influences what an individual pays attention to. Our emotions narrow our range of attention, perhaps most notably by causing witnesses to crimes focus on any weapons rather than assailant’s faces.

Familiarity with faces can also lead to errors, as already distracted witnesses can sometimes identify someone merely because they are familiar with the individuals face but cannot remember the correct source of their familiarity – also called source monitoring. Being questioned after witnessing a crime can also be problematic because reactivating one’s memory of an event makes it easier to influence and create false memories.

In order to ward off any of these errors, a number of actions have been proposed to help maintain the integrity of eyewitness testimony. Notifying witnesses that they perpetrator may not be in the lineup, using similar looking people in lineups, presenting each individual in a lineup one at a time, making sure that the officer administering the lineup does not know who the suspect is, and lastly, developing effective interview techniques such as the cognitive interview which was created to facilitate memory retrieval. These suggestions are based on psychological research.

Going back to the court’s ruling, in 2012, the US Supreme Court did find in favor of law enforcement agencies when it decided to back eyewitness identification in an 8-1 ruling. Still, Justice Ginsberg again iterated the importance of guarding against suggestibility during eyewitness testimony both by putting in place the safeguards mentioned previously as well as through ensuring proper police conduct.



Goldstein, E. B. (2011). Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience. Wadsworth: Belmont, CA.

Mears, B. (2012, Jan 11). Supreme Court backs eyewitness identification with 8-1 ruling. CNN. Retrieved from

Spoto, M. (2011, March 28). Camden manslaughter case has N.J. Supreme Court questioning reliability of witness identifications. Retrieved from

The Causes of Wrongful Conviction. (n.d.) The Innocence Project. Retrieved from



Midlands vs Joaquin: Seen it all Before… Wait, Not Like This!

Hurricane Joaquin

Top-down processing is also known as conceptually-driven processing, given that an individual’s perceptions are influenced by expectations, existing beliefs, and cognitions.  In some instances people are aware of these influences, but in other occurrences this process occurs without conscious awareness.  On 2 OCT 2015, I believe that I, along with the majority of the people of Columbia South Carolina were not consciously aware of the top-down processing that we possessed; which influence the perception that we had in regards to believing that Hurricane Joaquin would not have an impact on the Midlands…

The South Carolina Emergency Management Division was paying close attention to Hurricane Joaquin, and as a result of the storm’s projected movement, key agencies in South Carolina government had been notified to be ready to respond if the need arose.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the forecasts from the National Hurricane Center. We are preparing for the possibility that this storm could affect South Carolina, we’re asking residents to do the same.”

As hurricane Joaquin approached the East Coast, many “Midlands” residents received all the weather reports and warnings.  The storm’s path was meteorologically mapped, constantly updated, and broadcast just as with all other hurricanes and tropical storms that preceded Joaquin.  The city of Columbia certainly understood the possibilities of what could happen from natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding; however, for the residents of Columbia, South Carolina, that understanding was based off of previous knowledge of hurricanes such as Katrina; which wreaked havoc and caused major flooding throughout the state of Louisiana in 2005.  Or even other hurricanes which were seemingly destined to make landfall and relentlessly travel across the “Lowcountry”, such as Hurricane Hugo; which severely inflicted damage to Charleston, SC and the neighboring city to Columbia, Sumter, in 1989.  Also, Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 and Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 caused major flooding in South Carolina, but ironically, not in Columbia.  So over the years, the people of Columbia’s understanding of these types of natural disaster somehow did not apply to the city of Columbia itself since the perception was that even though natural disasters had threatened the city in the past, some even threatened a direct impact, all the storms previously amounted to no more than dark clouds and heavy rainfall; which quickly passed through without major concern or destruction.

Hugo_track2thumb   allison_2001_thumbnailjeanne_2004_thumbnail

Despite having prior knowledge of hurricanes and flooding, Top-Down Processing hindered the ability of the Columbia, SC residents to perceive such devastation for this particular environment.  Patterns of previous storms in the city, and the faint aftermath of their existence had apparently caused a perceptual set, or bias towards anything of the sort occurring in the capitol city; which limited the expectations and beliefs:

We haven’t seen this level of rain in the Lowcountry in 1,000 years. That’s how big this is,” Gov. Nikki Haley said at a press conference Sunday afternoon. “That’s what South Carolina is dealing with right now. The Congaree River is at its highest level since 1936.”

Though the warnings were given, the dark clouds quickly rolled in, and the rain poured down, what the residents of Columbia (to include myself) visualized and perceived was simply another heavy rainfall that would quickly pass. With that perception of this particular environment, obviously, not many prepared for the devastation that occurred on 3 OCT 2015.  Hours into the day, the rain poured in and major roadways were starting to flood.  Well into the next day the rain was still pouring in, and vehicles, homes, and apartments were flooded.  Residents were being rescued from their flooding vehicles, airlift rescues were being conducted for residents stuck on the rooftops of their homes, several dams were broken within the city, major roadways and bridges were washed out, and businesses were now under water.  Days later after the rain stopped, all potable water systems and electric power to the city were out.  Hurricane Joaquin had taken 9 lives, and had relentlessly inflicted unimaginable havoc and loss in the city of Columbia.  As of today, though power and water has been restored, the city is still in the recovery stage of restoring roadways, businesses, homes, and supplementing the financial needs of those who have lost everything and are still living in “temporary shelters.”

As previously mentioned, a determination was made about the storm unconsciously, just as with unconscious inference.  The theory of unconscious inference includes the likelihood principle, which states that we perceive the object that is most likely to have caused the pattern of stimuli we have received. (Cognitive Psychology, E. Bruce Goldstein, 3rd Ed.)   Thus, it was inferred that the dark clouds and heavy rain was simply a rain storm that would soon pass because of experiences we have had with similar situations in the past.  As stated in the text, Helmholtz describes the process of perception as being similar to the process involved in solving a problem. As explained, for perception, the problem is to determine which object has caused a particular pattern of stimulation, and this problem is solved by a process in which the observer applies his or her knowledge of the environment in order to infer what the object might be. (Cognitive Psychology, E. Bruce Golstein, 3rd Ed.)

As the clouds and rain were identified, this process was unconscious, hence the term unconscious inference.


Emotionally Unreasonable











The subjects of reasoning and emotions in chapter 13 of Goldstein’s Cognitive Psychology book caused me to reflect on the lives of close friends and comrades that have been senselessly lost without clear rhyme or reason over the last 8 years.  On each occurrence, I have wrestled with wonderment as to what goes through the mind of a person who chooses to commit suicide.  This subject has always baffled me, and it continues to hit home for me.

As recently as 4 months ago, a fellow comrade chose to end it all; although he was living a rewarding military career, sharing his life with a woman who was not only his wife, but seemed to also be his best friend, and he was proudly raising the exact replica of himself; the son that he always wanted.  His character unfortunately became flawed in an instance by one single act of his own; however, in my own reasoning, no mistake or blotched image seems to be reason enough to no longer want to live.  Emotionally fueled, and obviously unreasonable, SGT Lance’s (name change) death was tragic; yet, I want to say with certainty, that it was unnecessary and preventable.  Lance had several friends whom he had spoken to and hung out with the day prior to his death, but no one suspected the fact that he was too emotional to obviously think reasonably about the situation that he was now facing.  Of course there were rumors about the situation that he had caused for himself and his image had become slightly tarnished; however, how could a smudge be enough to take such a drastic (permanent) measure?  I often ponder what his reasoning was for feeling as though he no longer desired to live.  “According to Leighton and Kurtz, reasoning is ‘the process of drawing conclusions (Leighton, 2004) and as the cognitive processes by which people start with information and come to conclusions that go beyond that information’ (Kurtz et al., 1999).  Goldstein concludes that, “we can appreciate the process of reasoning by realizing that decisions are often the outcome of reasoning.” (Goldstein, 2011)  Still, I wonder how reasoning is appreciated, when the decided outcome is suicide.

Just as with Lance, I wonder if the nature of Toney’s reasoning: which killed him in 2007, CSM Stellar’s reasoning; which killed him in 2009, SSG Drill’s reasoning, which killed him in 2012, and SSG Scout’s reasoning; which also killed him a month prior to Lance, inductive in any way?  Knowing that each of them had challenging concerns in which they had previously witnessed the outcome of the same challenge through the lives of others, did they all make a prediction about what was going to happen to them, their careers, and perhaps their families based off of evidence and events from the past or other people? (Goldstein, 2011)  Were they met with a roadblock of confirmation bias, which disallowed them to reason accurately? (Goldstein, 2011)  Where they all convinced that they possessed legitimate information that was far from truth?  Only each of those individuals will ever truly know how their emotions affected their ability to reason.

“Toney, who killed himself in Iraq, managed to seclude himself long enough to place the muzzle of his rifle under his chin and pull the trigger.”  Lance walked to a park alone and tragically shot himself in the head, only to be found hours later by his best friend and wife lying in the middle of the field face down in his own pool of blood.  CSM Stellar shot himself in the head in Iraq while his wife (who was battling cancer) was at home awaiting his return with their three young children.  SSG Drill shot himself at home and failed to show for work the next day, SSG Scout hung himself, also at home and was found by his wife.

As I honor my brothers in arms, even today, I wonder what each of their immediate emotions was prior to pulling the trigger and releasing the slack on the rope that took their lives.  “According to Goldstein, ‘integral immediate emotions are associated with the act of making a decision.’ Anxiety is the integral emotion associated with making the decision and is probably the emotion that affects the decision.” (Goldstein, 2011)  “Even after draping the United States flag over Toney’s casket and watching him (his body) get placed inside an aircraft to take his final journey back to the United States, I possessed so many emotions of my own.”  After escorting CSM Stellar’s sick wife to his memorial to say her final farewell while she wondered who would raise their children if she eventually succumbed to her own illness, and after attending the memorials of my other brothers and comrades, there are no words that could possibly reason the outcome of each tragedy.  Lance, Toney, Stellar, Drill and Scott “all surrendered to events in their lives that left them in a state of what seemed to be too emotional to reason…still searching for a way to appreciate it all.”

Rest In Peace, Men!


Never Forget

It was just another day of elementary school. We were sitting in our assigned seats, eager to learn, when my teacher, Mrs. Pickard, excused herself from the classroom. The teachers gathered in the hallway. At first, we all thought they were going to play a fun joke on us (as they had done in the past). Then, we heard Fear – shock – concern – in their voices. Finally, they returned to the classroom where we waited for a special announcement from our school’s principal: “There has been a terrible incident in New York City. We will be excusing our students early today.” My mom came to pick me up shortly after. Still confused, I asked my mom what was going on- and even she couldn’t comprehend what had happened. What is this terrible event that I’m referring to? 9/11. My memory of the event rings so clear in my mind, despite it being so long ago.

This extreme memory is classified as a flashbulb memory. According to Muchinsky (2012), flashbulb memories are an individual’s memory for the circumstances surrounding highly shocking, supercharged events. Thus, in this case, my description of where I was and what I was doing on 9/11 is a perfect example.

In the article “A Memorial Is Itself a Shaper of Memory”, Boxer (2001) determines if it is possible for individuals to remember events as they actually were, or if they are highly influenced by emotion. Memory is highly susceptible to change; when individuals talk or hear about a pressing issue, they fulfill an internal consensus, forming new collective memories. Boxer (2011) describes a public memorial or ruin as a “scaffold,” something on which collective memory can hang. Ruins have the ability to “erase history”, as individuals are more likely to believe the narrative that comes with it.

This article explains just how inaccurate our memories may be. If we were to measure the accuracy of an individual’s reported memories, a repeated recall must be used to compare later memories with memories collected immediately after the event.


Muchinsky. (2011). Cognitive Psychology. Cengage Learning: Belmont, CA (3).

Boxer, S. (2001). A Memorial Itself is a Shaper of Memory. NY Times. Retrieved from

Flash Bulb Memory is a memory is a vivid memory that is in result to a situation or event that embeds that memory in your brain. Situations like September 11th 2001 when someone can tell you every detail of that day that had occurred in some cases 15 to 30 years ago as if they happened yesterday were on the same note they can’t recall where they left their car keys when they got home yesterday.

My topic that I will visit today will take us back to lesson 9. I am going to recall an evening on board my ship in the navy. On September 14th 2014 I was carrying out a normal days routine starting out at 0600 I went to breakfast. That morning I enjoyed pancakes and some cocoa puffs. 0730 rolled around and it was time to meet up with my division to inform them what was going on that day and what they had to accomplish. It was a normal light load day we were finishing up combat operations and heading home from our deployment. Everyone was in a type of laid back we are tired of being here type of mood. The evening before we decided that our sailors needed to remove Non Skid flooring from a re-fueling station that had taken a lot of damage from heavy usage on the past months. Once they accomplished this task they were off for the day with nothing else we wanted them to have a day to themselves to unwind. After this information was put out I left to go to my office to accomplish the administrative work that needed to be done for the day which took me 45 minutes. at 0900 I decided it was time to take a minute away from my division to go wander around my watch section to make sure nobody was asleep or not standing a proper watch. I made my way up to the Bridge and my Helmsman ( the person driving the ship) called me over and informed me that something awesome was supposedly happening that night that he overheard being discussed. He informed me that we were going to launch our first strikes on isis directly from our battle group. Naturally being in the Military this was something that was exciting to the young gentleman. I decided that I needed to know more about this so I went over and asked the officer of the deck what I needed to know. The officer of the deck informed me that I may want to stay up till approximately 0230 the following morning, he assured me it would be worth it. At that point I was baffled that we were on our way home but still participating in campaigns. After all the work was accomplished on that day I decided it was time to let everyone go do things for themselves and told them that I would see them tomorrow. I was greedy with my information because I did not know if it was sensitive information at that point or if it were even true because in the navy people love to make up stories to see how far they can get. I went to dinner with who is now my wife and a few of our friends on the ship. After dinner I went to my office and decided it was time for some video games to kill time. The video games lasted about 2 hours at 1900 I had what was called an evening meeting which was something that our department’s leadership had to go to too discuss problems from the day and plans to fix them and move forward as well as personnel issues and upcoming events. 2000 rolled around and I decided if I needed to be awake so early that I would benefit from a nap. I decided my nap would be best fit for my office couch since no one was in there it worked out. 0230 hit and I woke up a little late at 0230 on the dot to be exact. I ventured out to the deck outside which conveniently was right outside my office. To my surprise there were two of our ships not more than 2 miles away from us which on the water is abnormally close. 0243 rolled around then I heard a boom and from that moment for about 30 minutes I watched tomahawk cruise missiles launch from these ships. I remember that day and the events of it as if I had just experienced them an hour ago to this day.

Goldstein, B. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research and everyday experience (3rd ed.).

Speak Now

Language is such a complex means of communication. It is also strange, beautiful, and capable of expressing so many perceptions in such creative ways. I am an avid reader and have an inherent appreciation for the descriptive and the poetic ways in which our thoughts, feelings, and experiances can be communicated. Every year my desk calendar features a word of the day and there always seem to be more words to learn. For example, did you know that there is a word for flirtatious conversation that leads nowhere? There is, it’s sphallolalia. Or that moment of hesitation just before you introduce someone because you’ve forgotten their name? The word for that is tartle. I also marvel at the way many languages have words for things that the English language does not describe, such as the German words kummerspeck and fremdschamen. The former is a word to describe the excess weight that one gains from emotional over-eating, and the latter literally means the horror that you feel when you notice that someone is completely oblivious to how embarrassing they are in a moment. The creativity of language is wonderful! Which is why when researching topics for this weeks blog I was shocked to find a language that uses only about 100 words in total.

Toki Pona is the world’s smallest language. According to Roc Morin in his article for The Atlantic, the simplicity of the language creates a more profound form of communication (How to Say Almost Anything in 100 Words, 2015). Toki Pona contains 14 phonemes and 120 root words and is designed to shape the thought processes of it’s speakers in a Zen-like fashion. This is a miniscule Number of parts to work with considering there are a quarter of a million words in the Oxford English Dictionary and even Koko the gorilla has a 1000 different words that she can sign.

Apparently Toki Pona is now utilized by thousands of people around the world from Belgium to Australia, to China, but was constructed fairly recently and was first published in 2001 by linguist Sonja Lang from Toronto. Her aim, it seems, in creating this language was to minimalize and simplify the spoken word to its most efficient and reductive form. The result of this carefully crafted language is that it is subjective to what an item or concept means to the speaker. It is a language of neologisms in a sense. In order to speak Toki Pona, one must determine what the word they wish to say means from their subjective point of view and construct a phrase. Morin uses the concept of a car to illustrate this. The speaker must determine what exactly a car is. Lang says: “You might say that a car is a space that’s used for movement,” she proposed. “That would be tomo tawa. If you’re struck by a car though, it might be a hard object that’s hitting me. That’s kiwen utala.”(2015).lead_960

To create the Toki Pona, Lang used a sort of top- down method of reducing language to it’s most basic elements and figuring out what would be needed to express most anything with as few flourishes as possible. There are no words for thank you or please. There are no words for vague concepts like the color pink. As I was reading this article, I wondered what would be the point of creating a new language in such way and why you would want it to be so limited. But as I read on I realized that it was just another miraculous invention of expression. It’s the linguistic version of Modern furniture. It has clean lines and clear artistry. It can also be learned in 30 minutes or less!

Morin, R. (2015, July 15). How to Say (Almost) Everything in a Hundred-Word Language. Retrieved November 21, 2015, from

Gone in a Flash

A flashbulb memory is a vivid, enduring memory for how one learned about a surprising or a shocking event. It involves memory for the source of event information, as opposed to only a memory for the event itself. The brain regions involved with flashbulb memories are unknown. (Davidson, 2005)

According to the APA, the idea of a flashbulb memory was first proposed in 1977 by psychologists Roger Brown, PhD, and James Kulik, PhD. They believed that these memories become so emotionally important to us that they are stored as vividly and accurately as a photo. Today’s research however has shown that these memories are not as accurate but yet still very clear and vivid. (Law, 2011)

One of the most widely known events that would relate to this topic would be the horrific moment when the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center. Too many people can describe that moment whether they were in New York City or across the country, many of us can recall that exact moment in time when those terrible events began to unfold on the television. We are likely to remember when and where we were as the terrible news came about just as well as the event itself. I know I was sitting in my 3rd grade classroom looking up at the television in the corner of the room, where my teacher and other students felt it was horrible to watch nobody turned it off. I even remember the days following, and the moment of silence asked of us each morning before the start of class for a few days. I can picture myself in the classroom but I cannot completely remember the news itself aside from small bits and pieces of it.

A moment in my life that has seemed linked to a very strong emotional event was the death of my grandmother. She had been in the hospital for over a month and I was 6 years old. I was at my grandfathers house the night she died, and he and my mom say me down next to my “little bear” teddy bear on the couch next to the window. I can’t quite remember the words they used but I remember my response, I remember laughing at my mother telling her she was joking with me and asking to go visit my grandmother. I was old enough to understand death but it took a week to truly hit me. To this day I can still picture this moment in time as if I were sitting behind myself in the past on that couch. Like somehow my mind had warped what every angle of that room looked like. However, if I walk back into that room and look out that window from the couch if doesn’t suddenly pop into my head it seems to follow up with other sad events in my life or if for some reason I’m randomly thinking of her.

These flashbulb memories however are not always 100% accurate. We tend to believe that all of these memories are completely accurate the way we replay them through our head but we are very prone to make errors. It’s too easy to forget important details or “remember” things that never actually happened. As we take in new information we need to be open minded to the fact that not only new evidence confirms our original belief. As we repeat these memories to others, we also hear other accounts of that event which may seem more vivid than ours and might lead us to “revise” our own memories. Even the flashbulb memories that seem to be unforgettable have their own inaccuracies and can be wrong. (Vitelli, 2015)

Law B.M. (2011) American Psychological Association: Seared in our Memories

Davidson, P. R. (2005) Source Memory in the Real World: A Neuropsychological Study of Flashbulb Memory.

Vitelli, R PhD. (2015) years Remembering 9/11

Noticing Basic level Categories used most often by my 6 year-old niece

In chapter 9 of the course text book it talks about if there is a “privileged” level of categories and goes into placing the basic level as that “privileged” level. I have noticed that my niece almost only uses this basic level of categorization when identifying objects. It could be argued that this is due to lack of knowledge of subordinate level of the objects, but she doesn’t use the superordinate level either, which she does know.


For example, when it comes to dinner time she might say something like, “I don’t want to eat the veggies (vegetables).” instead of saying I don’t want to eat peas. She does the same thing with fish, it can be whiting, swai, salmon, or fish sticks, but it is still just fish. As well as with potatoes they can be mashed, baked, or scalloped they are still potatoes to her.  This agrees with Rosch’s reasoning as discussed in the book.


Although she will call most automobiles cars (cars, vans, and trucks) there are certain automobiles that she will use the subordinate level. They all seem to be public service vehicles, such as a trash truck, fire truck, ambulance, etc. This is due to the important of the specific nature of the vehicles. She knows that an ambulance or fire truck means that there is danger or people are hurt. You could say that her greater knowledge leads to the use of the more details subordinate level than the basic level in these cases.



Goldstein, E. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (3rd ed., pp. 228-230). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

False Flippin’ Memories

For this post, I will be looking back to lesson nine of the course to write about the misinformation effect. A couple of months ago, I was in a vehicle crash after swerving to keep from hitting a dog. Immediately after the crash, I thought that I could vividly recall exactly what took place during the crash. I could even recall the sensations of falling and of being upside-down while my vehicle was flipping, which I found strange since most people claim to remember very little about accidents or traumatic events after they occur. Despite my vivid memories of the crash, my memory of events immediately following the crash have become quite distorted. The accounts of the first responders and others who arrived at the scene eventually led to misinformation and false memories.

Soon after my crash, I was sitting on a front porch belonging to the family whose yard I had flipped into. While somewhat disoriented and bleeding from my head, I gave my account of the crash as well as I could to the first police officer on the scene. After telling the officer that I had to crawl out of the front windshield due to my truck lying on its side, he told me that I was remembering wrong and that my truck had landed on all four tires after flipping. This came as a shock because I was sure that I remembered crawling out of the windshield and standing up to see my truck lying on its side. I was initially convinced that the officer was incorrect, but my brother soon confirmed his story. By brother was one of the first people on the scene and told me that my truck was upright when he arrived and that the tow truck had not yet approached my truck. After hearing the accounts of the others involved, my memory of events after the crash began to change. I could no longer picture myself crawling out of the windshield and began to form a memory of exiting through the door.

According to an article written on the misinformation effect, discussing an event with other witnesses can conflict with what actually happened. Listening to the different accounts of the event can distort memories, and repeated exposure to conflicting or inaccurate events can even cause one to reshape his or her own memories (Cherry, 2015). This was proven in my case. The more and more I heard of what everyone else had concluded about the way I exited my vehicle, the more vividly I could recall their accounts, and I could no longer remember crawling out of the windshield despite how vivid the original memory had been. I even formed a visual memory of opening the door of my truck and stepping out onto the ground.

A few weeks ago, my mother ran into one of the firemen who had been among the first responders, and she asked him about my crash. He recalled that when he arrived, my truck was lying on its side and the tow truck was lifting it back to its upright position. This took place before my brother or the police officer had arrived. After spending so much time remembering an inaccurate account due to misinformation, my memory of what happened is still false, despite learning the truth. This case displays the power that misinformation has on our memories, and it proves that enough exposure to false accounts can even lead to forming vivid memories of things that never actually took place.



Cherry, K. (2015). What is the misinformation effect? Retrieved from