The madeleine effect

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Rudy Oldeschulte, M.A., J.D., Qualif. Psychoanalysis

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‘Why is the smell and taste of some foods so evocative of the past? I spent a day eating childhood favourites to find out’ – Julian Baggini 

“Proust was right, then, to see smell and taste as providing emotional and evocative links to the distant past, but not a direct portal to our autobiographical histories. Experimental psychology has shown us that memory is never simply a question of bringing sights, sounds, smells and tastes back into consciousness. Remembering turns out to be an iterative process in which every recollection slightly changes what is remembered, a kind of internal Chinese whispers in which, if a consistent story or image is settled on, the chances are it is significantly different from what originally took place. What’s more, the accuracy of memory is, if anything, inversely proportionate to our confidence in its truth. Studies of eyewitness testimony show that the people who…

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