Flashbulb or Flashback

By: Dawson Lewis

Why I chose...

The reason I chose Flashbulb Memory was because i thought it was going to be very interesting to learn about and i have never heard anyone talk about Flashbulb Memory. I believe that doing this research will help me see what it takes to have one of these memories. I want to see how tragic or happy the event has to be to have a flashbulb memory, to remember the rest of your life.

About Flashbulb Memory

A flashbulb memory is a highly detailed memory that is stored in your brain from one certain occasion and remains there for you whole life. It is basically like a quick snapshot of the moment where something very important happened to you, which you will never forget.

How the Brain is involved??

The activation of the amygdala, the brain’s emotional arousal center, is stronger when people encounter something in close range than farther away, possibly because the amygdala is more engaged when people witness such events firsthand. That is because the amygdala is the emotional center. For example, the people that experienced 9/11 first hand will have flashbulb memories for the rest of there lives because they were there when it all went down. In contrast the people watching on TV will of course always remember 9/11 just not the specific "snapshots," or details.

A Study...


Phelps and her team studied functional magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brains of 24 people who were in New York City on the day of the terrorist attacks. Three years after the attacks, they observed the participants’ brain activity during recall of the day’s events, as well as other autobiographical events from the preceding summer. The participants, who were asked to retrieve memories of Sept. 11 while being scanned, rated their memories for vividness, level of detail, and confidence in the accuracy of the memories, and they were asked to write about their personal experience of the terrorist attacks and where they were at the time.

People who were in downtown Manhattan, near the World Trade Center, reported more vivid recollections of the attacks, including specific details about sounds and smells, than people who were a few miles away, in midtown, and experienced the event via television or the Internet.

Intersting facts...

  • One reason that the flashbulb memories are remembered is because these memories tend to be retold over and over again.
  • Sometimes these memories are not necessarily accurate. Accuracy reduces during the first 3 months and levels at about 12 months.
  • You start developing flashbulb memories around age 8.

  • One year after an event, 50 percent of the details you can recall change.

  • Humans are terrible at remembering how they felt at the moment.

  • Media can highly influence your memories.

For more information...

Go to http://www.dana.org/Publications/Brainwork/Details.aspx?id=43680 to learn more about flashbulb memory