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Could False Memories Be An Efficient Diet Helper?
Speculating on the scientifically proven memory unreliability, the memory specialist Elizabeth Loftus, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Irvine thought of using the technique of false memory induction as a new approach to dieting. And this is how: by inducing false memories about specific foods.
It was proven by scientific studies that under the right circumstances, false memories can be easily ingrafted in some people. Amazing results were obtained from performing such tests and studies on this topic: successfully instilling false memories from plausible false childhood memories (which are easy to instill) and imagination inflation to impossible memories (such as pretense memories from the first year of life - it is known that such memories are impossible from the strictly physiological point of view, because of the insufficient maturation of the hippocampus, which plays a key role in the creation of retrievable memories).
On a study made on a group of students on food preferences, they ranked a range of foods on a scale of one to five. In a second phase the students were shown a presumptive childhood food profile which had been made-up containing false memories of bad experiences during childhood when eating dill pickles or hard-boiled eggs. Ulterior questionning of students on their food memories revealed that 25 percent in the pickle group and 31 percent in the hard-boiled eggs group thought that they had indeed gotten sick from the food as children.
However, most of the subjects didn't fall for the fake memories.
So, a first weak part in applying this technique is thus revealed: only a certain category of people is more susceptible for adopting suggestioned memories as their own. These persons share specific traits such as lapses in memory and attention. Also, people who are adept at visual imagery may be prone to suggestion.
The second soft spot of this theory is that there are limits to influencing eating habits, it cannot be applied for every food. For example, it was proven on a previous study that although suggestioned against potato chips consumption, people could not be convinced to avoid this food. A possible explanation would be the fact that they had plenty of experience with the food.
On the other hand, false memories induction can help influencing not only avoidance of certain foods but also healthy food choices.
Another potential problem that could be generated when applying this "therapy" might be the total exclusion of the targeted food or even food group from one's diet, which cannot be totally convenient.
This ground is still experimental, the theory is being subjected to further study and is still too preliminary to clearly indicate how it might be applied into dieting.
Thinking that memories can be erased or instilled at one's will (usually a psychiatrist's will) generates a great deal of inquietude for many of us. Well, however much the False Memories Syndrome might be a trouble generator, its adjustment for dietary needs would be a very convenient solution for solving some unwanted cravings and a very good helper or even replacement to will training.
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