If weather forecast is correct, this storm won’t be so memorable, expert says


CHESTNUT HILL – It seems everyone in New England remembers a winter storm. It’s a badge of honor or a storm of survival with wounds as salty as the sidewalks, no matter how much time has passed.

But does our memory of these storms change over time?

“Our memories aren’t as accurate as we might think,” Dr. Elizabeth Kensinger, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Boston College, told WBZ-TV.

She says the thoughts, “Back then, the weather was worse,” can be part of a common theme for memories.

“Remembering a past that happened differently than it actually happened is more normal than unusual. And I think that direction of error where we think something in the past was more difficult for us and we overcame something is actually a very typical way in which our memories are distorted,” Dr. Kensinger said.

Memories are not so much a snapshot of the past, but rather a glimpse of the future.

“What’s the use of knowing exactly what happened in the past, it’s not very useful unless it really helps us understand this moment and prepare for the next moment,” he said. she told WBZ. “The weather was so bad back then and we went through those blizzards and so, of course, we’re ready for whatever comes next.”

It’s also possible that media coverage of winter storms affects how people store this memory in their brains.

Dr. Kensinger believes there’s a really interesting possibility that the better the media coverage, especially for an upcoming storm, the less memorable that storm will be.

“It creates the interesting possibility that we remember storms from our childhood as being worse because maybe they weren’t predicted so accurately,” she told WBZ.

Kensinger said that even though we’ve had many storms that surpassed the impacts of the 1978 blizzard, like the April Fool’s Day storm, the Presidents’ Day blizzard, or winter storm Nemo, the 1978 blizzard comes out so vividly because it exceeded the expectations of the general public.

“It’s those moments in life that totally throw you a curveball and you don’t know what’s coming. Those are really the moments that tend to stick with us the longest,” she said. .

So that memory of walking to school uphill, back and forth, waist deep in snow, may not be exactly what happened.

“Our memories are what our identity is. It’s really what gives us our sense of who we are in this world. It influences in a really extreme way how we interact with others, how we make sense of the moment present, how we think about our future,” Dr. Kensinger said.


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