Bridging the Gap Between Believing and Memory Functions


  • Rüdiger J. Seitz
  • Hans-Ferdinand Angel
  • Raymond F. Paloutzian


Believing has recently been recognized as a fundamental brain function linking a person’s experience with his or her attitude, actions and predictions. In general, believing results from the integration of ambient information with emotions and can be reinforced or modulated in a probabilistic fashion by new experiences. Although these processes occur in the subliminal realm, humans can become aware of what they believe and express it verbally. We explain how believing is interwoven with memory functions in a multifaceted fashion. Linking the typically rapid and adequate reactions of a subject to what he/she believes is enabled by working memory. Perceptions are stored in episodic memory as beneficial or aversive events, while the corresponding verbal descriptions of what somebody believes are stored in semantic memory. After recall from memory of what someone believes, personally relevant information can be communicated to other people. Thus, memory is essential for maintaining what people believe.