Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How The Brain Creates False Memories

Date:
February 9, 2005
Source:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary:
Lawyers are often suspicious of so-called "eye-witness accounts" and rightly so. Hundreds of scientific studies in the past few decades have shown that the memories of people who observe complex events are notoriously susceptible to alteration if they receive misleading information about the event after it has taken place.

Lawyers are often suspicious of so-called "eye-witness accounts" and rightly so. Hundreds of scientific studies in the past few decades have shown that the memories of people who observe complex events are notoriously susceptible to alteration if they receive misleading information about the event after it has taken place. In this month's issue of the journal Learning & Memory, scientists from Johns Hopkins University report new insights into how such "false memories" are formed. This is the first study to use neuroimaging to investigate how the brain encodes misinformation during the creation of a false memory.

Using advanced, non-invasive imaging techniques, Yoko Akado and Craig Stark compared the areas of the brain that were active when a subject was encoding a complex event and afterwards, during exposure to misleading information. For example, subjects were asked to watch a vignette comprised of 50 photographic slides showing a man stealing a woman's wallet, then hiding behind a door. A little later, the subjects were shown what they thought was the same sequence of slides but unbeknownst to them the second set of slides contained a misleading item and differed in small ways from the original--the man hid behind a tree, for example, not a door.

Two days later, the subjects took a memory test, which asked them to recall details such as where the man hid, and which presentation--the first, second, or both--contained that information. Memory for a misinformation item was scored as a false memory only if the subject attributed the item to either the original presentation or to both the original and second slide presentations.

Stark and Akado found clear evidence that the subjects' brain activity predicted if their memories of the theft would be accurate or false. Consistent with findings from numerous previous studies that have reported that areas such as the hippocampus are highly active during memory formation, Okado and Stark found activity in the left hippocampus tail as well as perirhinal cortex was correlated with successful encoding of an item in memory, even when the memory that was formed was for a false item. But in subjects who had formed false memories, it was noticeable that activity in other brain areas such as the prefrontal cortex was weak during exposure to the second sequence of slides compared to during the original viewing.

Okada and Stark suggest that activity in the prefrontal cortex is correlated to encoding the source, or context, of the memory. Thus, weak prefrontal cortex activity during the misinformation phase indicaates that the details of the second experience were poorly placed in a learning context, and as a result more easily embedded in the context of the first event, creating false memories.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "How The Brain Creates False Memories." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 February 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050205130345.htm>.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2005, February 9). How The Brain Creates False Memories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050205130345.htm
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "How The Brain Creates False Memories." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/02/050205130345.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins