False Memories in Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory Individuals
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol.110, No.52, 2013, pp.20947-20952
15 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2013 Last revised: 6 Mar 2014
Date Written: November 18, 2013
The recent identification of highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM) raised the possibility that there may be individuals who are immune to memory distortions. We measured HSAM participants’ and age- and sex-matched controls’ susceptibility to false memories using several research paradigms. HSAM participants and controls were both susceptible to false recognition of nonpresented critical lure words in an associative word-list task. In a misinformation task, HSAM participants showed higher overall false memory compared with that of controls for details in a photographic slideshow. HSAM participants were equally as likely as controls to mistakenly report they had seen nonexistent footage of a plane crash. Finding false memories in a superior-memory group suggests that malleable reconstructive mechanisms may be fundamental to episodic remembering. Paradoxically, HSAM individuals may retrieve abundant and accurate autobiographical memories using fallible reconstructive processes.
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