Everybody knows what they were doing when they heard about the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, right? Wrong. Studies of such “flashbulb memories” show that while we remember the facts of the shocking event, we are often completely wrong about where we were, who we were with and so forth. Worse – we are likely to be confident in our errors. Elizabeth Phelps, a professor of psychology and neural science at New York University, has studied how the brain processes information in highly charged contexts. She finds that the more emotionally compelling an event, the stronger the memory for core information. But our vivid memory of the main event comes at a cost: our brains focus intensely on the central action, but miss or discard peripheral information. Phelps has worked to improve the accuracy of eyewitness testimony. Her conclusion: "Unless we are talking about the most central part of the recollection, assume that our confidence [in our memory] is misplaced. More often than not, it is."