Our brains are constantly altering the past so they don’t conflict with the present. Our emotions change the stories stored in our memories every time when we recall them.
When we first lay down a memory, it takes the brain a little while to solidly store the information—a process called consolidation. And every time we subsequently recall that memory, it has to go through a new storage process—another slight delay for another consolidation. During that window, new information can interfere with the old information and alter the memory. Liz Phelps, a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University focuses her research on how learning and memory are changed by emotions. She explains why our memories can be so malleable in an engaging video called “Controlling Our Fears,”