Scientists Identify Brain Connections That Create False Memories

by Rajashri on Jul 19 2009 12:42 PM

Brain connections that encourage the formation of false memories have been identified by Spanish researchers.

According to the study, such memories appear to be more likely in people with high-quality links between neurons in a particular brain area.

Often people remember the same events differently or report memories of things they should have been too young to recall. To know if a tendency to create false memories is reflected in the structure of the brain, Lluis Fuentemilla at the University of Barcelona and colleagues induced them in 48 students in the lab.

To reach the conclusion, volunteers were asked to read four lists of 14 semantically related words, in which each list had an absent "lure" word. For example, a list including "seat", "sofa", "table" and "stool" had "chair" as its lure, reports New Scientist.

The participants wrote down as many words as they could recall while subsequently having their brains scanned.

Those who "recalled" more lures were assumed to be more prone to false memories, and were found to have higher-quality neural connections, called axons, in the superior longitudinal fascicle, known to be associated with gist-based memory.

The study has been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.