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Psychology 101 False Memory

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Psychology 1101

07 April 2019

                                                False Memory

        We often think of our mind as an impenetrable and incorruptible fortress, entirely logical and free from error in rational judgement. Even a brief survey of psychological research however, reveals an entirely different picture of what happens inside our heads. One such area where our brains our susceptible to irrational and unfounded distortion of reality is observable in the phenomenon known as false memory. We think of our memory like a camcorder: carefully recording events with any details present being direct inputs based on our real life perception at the time. The discovery of false memory shows us that, even though we may see these memories so vividly in our minds, it is quite possible and likely that they have been altered by our own emotional feelings about the event and suggestion from recollections of others of the event. False memory is error prone recollection you remember after you’ve combined your perceptions stored in your long term memory with suggestion and emotions tied to that event.  

Research done in the past ties people’s memory formation with their attachment style. This research has largely been focused on retrieval of memories that actually took place. This first experimental study sought to establish firstly if attachment styles also predict memories for events that never occurred. It also aimed to predict whether or not experimentally controlled attachment anxiety leads to the creation of false memories for relationships and other interpersonal events and how errors like the ones mentioned occur during which part of the memory development process. The researchers’ results found that attachment anxiety is associated with inclination to experience false alarms with relational stimuli. This is consistent with the idea that attachment anxiety can alter the state of memory encoding and contribute to people producing memories that never happened at all. The level at which this affects an individual is associated with the individuals proclivity to experience false alarm sensations.

It is well known that sleep helps the brain encode and develop long term memories, exactly what degree of influence sleep has over these memory processes is less clear. This meta analysis of studies using the Deese/Roediger–McDermott (DRM) paradigm for memory of thematically related words looked at how sleep affects the formation of both true (veridical) and false memories. The meta-analysis research found that there is no particular effect of sleep on specifically veridical or false memories. However, the effect of sleep on overall memories was altered by a few parameters. Sleep effects were more prominently observed in recall than in recognition assessments.  In conclusion, the effect sleep had on the memory processing differed based on the type of memory task that was being tested.

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