How Reliable Is Your Memory? | Street Tested

– Hyup. – Is that what you’re having for breakfast? – Yeah. – That’s not a breakfast. – Oh, what did you have for breakfast, Jessica. – Well, I… I don’t remember. – Oh. You know, short-term memory is something we use on a daily basis. Remembering where you put your iPhone or where you left your car keys. – Remembering a face of someone you just met or even what they were wearing. – But how reliable is short-term memory? Can it lie to us? – Well, you know what we should do? We should test this out. – Yeah. – Yeah. Yeah. – Alright. – No, no. No, no, no, no. This time you’re coming with me. – I don’t want to. – Well, we’ve gotta go this is our job. It’s Street Tested, we street the test. – [Voiceover] Retaining images in short-term memory requires multiple regions of the brain. Short-term memory involves the frontal part of the brain called the IPF. While visual memory involves the regions in the back of the brain called V4.

The number of images you can hold in your visual short-term memory varies, depending on the complexity of the images. So, we decided to test this out by talking to some everyday people out in the streets. Then, switching out with Shane and then Shane has some questions about what I look like. Seems easy, right? – Number one. What color sweater was Jessica wearing? – I believe it was burgundy. (buzzer) – A burgundy sweater? – Yeah. – Black sweater? – Black, yeah.

(buzzer) – Yeah, black. – Black? (buzzer) Okay. – I would guess… – She was standing right here. – I know, yeah. I’m gonna say red. (buzz) I have no idea. – Red sweater? – Green you guys, come on. – Her undershirt, what color was it? – Wasn’t it like, purple? (buzzer) – The undershirt was purple? – Yeah. – Yeah. – Yeah, I was thinking purple magenta. (buzzer) – Purple magenta? – Yeah, I was thinking eggplant, which is like… (buzzer) – An eggplant? – Yeah, eggplant color.

– Okay. – What color was the shirt? – Pink? (buzzer) – I thought it was blue. (buzzer) – Jessica had some highlights in her hair. What color were the highlights? – I mean, she was a good looking girl, but I just didn’t, I didn’t… – Very kind of you, Adam though, let’s answer the question. – Oh, man. – Ah, there pink tips at the end. (bell) – Pink tips at the end? – Like, magenta.

(bell) Magenta. Purple? – I have no idea. – No idea? (buzzer) – Yeah. – Purple? – Purple? Alright. Okay. (bell) And was she wearing lipstick? – No? (buzzer) (upbeat music) – [Voiceover] We’re often so confident in detailed memories that are actually incorrect. This understanding may eventually change the importance of eyewitness testimony in court cases. – And only these defendants could have committed this crime. – So, it turns out short-term memory isn’t that reliable. – Yeah. Some of those people talked to you and then one minute later couldn’t remember what color sweater you were wearing. – Yeah, they thought this was pink or red or whaaat? Anyway… – There you go. – Ungh, sad about that, but… – Yeah. Still pretty messed up you can’t remember what you have for breakfast though. – Yeah, but I mean I remember I was eating it and I remember I was drinking something with it, so, what does that say? – No, says nothing.