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Posts Tagged ‘Confabulation’

“I Swear It Happened!” But It Never Did…

April 27th, 2018 2 comments

Image 1- Ok, Gerard… 

Has someone ever told you a tale that made you think, “That just can’t be true!”. Well, you may be right. Here’s the thing, you may fondly remember your eighth birthday party at a local barn with a bunch of cute animals. You and your friends rode the horses, brushed the horses, and you even remember feeding the horses straight from your hand. Oh, and the cake! Your mother ordered a special strawberry shortcake for your birthday party. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day, and you remember that party like it was yesterday. But the even more important thing is, none of this really happened.

In reality, you have never ridden a horse in your life and you are allergic to strawberries… Even when a childhood friend of yours gently reminds you that that never really happened, you still firmly believe (and can even remember specific details!) that your eighth birthday party happened exactly that way (Pederson, 2018). Your friend softly says to you, “You have created a confabulation”, to which you respond, “I’ve created a WHAT?!”

Image 2– Maybe… 

Confabulation is a memory disturbance that results in people reporting memories of events in their own personal history that actually never happened. Confabulations can take the form of small inaccuracies, such as simply filling in gaps in one’s memory with false details, or they can be large events, such as the horseback riding birthday party described earlier. Regardless of the magnitude of the memory, it is difficult to convince the person that their “memories” are false.

It is sometimes difficult to identify a confabulation because the person reporting the memory could seem very convincing and in touch with reality, but really the story is untrue (Shingaki et al., 2016). People who confabulate confidently describe imagined scenarios and present them as being completely true (Pederson, 2018). Another difficulty in identifying a confabulation is that a person’s autobiographical memory is generally quite difficult to study because if we did not experience the event with the person telling the story, then we can never really know if it actually happened or not. Even if we can’t thoroughly study someone’s episodic history, we can at least know that the person who experiences these confabulations is not purposefully deceiving you with inaccurate information. In fact, they wholeheartedly believe that what they are saying is the truth (Nall, 2017).
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Eager To Please: Confabulation in healthy and amnesic individuals

April 17th, 2017 4 comments

If we can trust anyone, we should first trust ourselves, right? Not always, as cases of confabulation tell us. Imagine not being able to trust the accuracy of your own memory! And worse, not even knowing that you can’t trust it!

Individuals who confabulate genuinely believe that their memory is accurate, when in fact they are reporting or remembering false things. For example, an amnesic patient might tell a doctor an elaborate story about his weekend, which he says he spent in New York City exploring art museums. In reality, the patient was in the hospital the entire weekend, but has no doubt that the story he’s relaying to his doctor is true.

Confabulation is the unconscious process of producing false memories, and it can affect anyone. Those affected by confabulation range from amnesic patients to an average person participating in a psychological study. Obviously, the severity and consequences of the confabulation vary depending on the individual and the situation.
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It’s a truth… It’s a lie… It’s confabulation?

April 17th, 2017 No comments

There are small lies and there are large lies, and then there are a range of lies that fall in between- not too unbelievable, but just shy of complete plausibility. We’ve all committed a few little white lies, telling mom or dad that yes, of course our homework is done, of course the dishes have been washed, and of course we cleaned our rooms. We grow older and the lies get larger and a bit more complicated- of course we’re out of town, too sick to make it, too tired to meet up. Of course it was a business trip, of course we were at the office late. Then you have the lies that Mr. A, who could be seen as your respectable grandfather, tells about the staff at his nursing home. A likeable business man until a stroke two years ago, and now he’s going around making up stories and claiming that all the aides are sleeping with him (Chlebowski, Chung, Alao, & Pies, 2009).

https://www.motivateyourself.co.uk/podcast-114/

But can it really be considered just a lie? There’s no evidence of anything going on between Mr. A and the nurses, but is he really just a troublemaker, making up the lies for fun? Or rather are the accusations an example of false memories (untrue or distorted real memories)? Then, take note of the fact that Mr. A had a stroke before these “lies” arose. Confabulation is the term for a memory disturbance, where false or erroneous memories are formed involuntarily and are fully believed to be true, seen with amnesia and Alzheimer’s disease (Bajo, Fleminger, Metcalfe, & Kopelman, 2016; Lee, K. Meguro, Hashimoto, M. Meguro, Ishii, Yamaguchi, & Mori, 2007). Mr. A, then, could vehemently believe in the truthfulness of his statements, despite their complete fabrication. There is still research going on to figure out what confabulations really are and what causes them, but here we can look into what’s been done to tell us (1) why confabulations occur and what they entail, (2) what confabulations actually look like, and (3) how confabulations differ between amnesic and Alzheimer’s patients. Read more…

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