Skip to comments.False memories show up in the brain
Posted on 11/07/2007 11:32:25 PM PST by neverdem
Your brain can distinguish between real and fake memories, even if you cant.
Tell the truth: our brain can sometimes reveal if our memories are real or false.stockbyteIts a common situation: youre embroiled in an argument over a fact and you know for certain that you have the right answer. But when someone rushes to their laptop to google the correct answer, you discover that you were wrong.
Whether in a fight with a spouse or giving testimony on the witness stand, it is clear that our memories are not always trustworthy. Now, researchers have found that although those vivid false memories may seem indistinguishable from true memories to you, but they are sometimes processed by different parts of the brain1.
The results could one day be used to devise an early test for Alzheimers disease, or to assess the accuracy of witness testimony, says study author Roberto Cabeza, a neuroscientist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Cabeza and Hongkeun Kim of Daegu University in South Korea asked 11 people to read lists of words that fall into a certain category, such as farm animals. The subjects were later asked whether specific words had occurred on the original lists, while functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to measure the changes in blood flow to different areas of their brains. The participants were also asked to say how confident they were in their answers.
The researchers found that when study participants had confidence in their answer and they were correct, blood flow increased to the medial temporal lobes located near the dividing line between halves of the brain. This region of the brain contains the hippocampus, and is important for memory.
But when subjects had confidence in their answer but were wrong (which happened up to 20% of the time depending on the circumstances), the frontoparietal region lit up. Those regions are associated with what Cabeza calls a sense of familiarity.
Dont I know you? Familiarity is a general feeling that an event has happened in the past, even though you cant recall the specific details, such as when you are sure you have seen someone before, but cant remember her name or how you know her. Its basically an empty feeling, says Cabeza. In the case of true memories, you have real details to retrieve.
Previous work with brain injury patients has shown that familiarity and recollection are separate things, which can be affected independently. True recollection declines as we age, while the capacity for remembering familiarity remains intact.
But this pattern does not hold true in Alzheimers patients, notes Cabeza. In Alzheimers patients, we see a deficit in both kinds of memory, says Cabeza. So he suggests that measures of brain activity connected to familiarity could be used as an early diagnosis for the disease.
Accuracy and confidence Such brain scans may one day help to distinguish real memories from false ones on the witness stand, Cabeza says. Brain scans like these have previously been suggested for use in distinguishing people who know they are lying from those who know they are telling the truth. It could also help to distinguish accidental lies from the truth, this study suggests.
But the scans arent as clear cut as one might hope them to be. Another kind of memory, called phantom recollection, occurs when your brain provides you with false details appropriated from other memories: for example, if you saw a woman and not only felt certain that you had met her before, but also mistakenly knew that her name is Sheila and she went to college with you. Phantom recollections occur less frequently than false memories, but they can activate the medial temporal lobe just as true memories do, says Cabeza.
For Valerie Reyna, a cognitive neuroscientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the results underscore the fact that judges and juries should not use a witnesss confidence in their own answers as a signal that the answers are more likely to be true. It is really surprising, but there is a very weak relation between accuracy and confidence, she says.
References Kim, H. & Cabeza, R. Journal of Neuroscience doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3408-07.2007 (2007).
That explains how they think the Clinton Economy was more than a bubble.
If the writer can't get a sentence right, I'm skeptical.
“Such brain scans may one day help to distinguish real memories from false ones on the witness stand, Cabeza says. Brain scans like these have previously been suggested for use in distinguishing people who know they are lying from those who know they are telling the truth. It could also help to distinguish accidental lies from the truth, this study suggests.”
All potential members of Congress should be required to have one of these.
I wonder if it would be able to ascertain if a lie caused by the self-protection mechanism is so ingrained in the brain of someone with a personality order that it cannot be changed. When a lie is the only truth possible.
I thought I had read this before
How confident were you of that?
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Great idea. I like the idea of testing them for drug & alcohol abuse too.
Especially the recession started by the 93 tax increases. They don't like it when you bring that memory into a conversation.
So Dr. Cabeza studies the brain. Coincidence? I think not.
For you Spanish-deprived out there, cabeza means "head". Which may make you now wonder about that Spanish explorer you read about in school, Cabeza de Vaca. Don't ask....Or was it some other explorer, I don't recall. I am certain, it was Cabeza de Vaca.
“Cabeza de Vaca means “head of cow”. This surname was granted to his family in the 13th century, when his ancestor aided a Christian army attacking Moors by pointing out a secret pass through the mountains by leaving a cow’s head there. In the prologue to his great story relating his shipwreck and wanderings in North America, he refers to his forefather’s service to the King, and regrets that his own deeds could not be as great, due to forces beyond his control.”
This is really cool!
I’ve always loved that Star Trek device (original series) which was activated during legal testimony ... “subject relating accurate information - no physiological changes” or something like that. It would be so great to have a device like that available - it would certainly have been helpful during the ‘Toon’s testimony in the Flowers case, etc. Can you imagine having such a device active during political debates? Congressional testimony? Congressional speeches?
This discovery may actually lead to some thing extremely useful!
Clinton would cause such a device to overload, burn out, and explode (much like Captain Kirk did to various world-controlling computers).
Can you imagine having such a device active during political debates? Congressional testimony? Congressional speeches?
Preferably with an attachment to give the speaker an electrical shock when he got caught in a lie.
Are you pondering what I'm pondering, Pinky?
The Spanish method of winning their country back from the Moors will be, I fear, the model for Europe if they ever decide to resist sharia law. It will someday be too late to just kick them all out, and they will have to fight for Christendom.
I could have sworn I’d read this before, then found an article that said the exact opposite. Thanks demnever.
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Posted on 11/07/2007 9:30:31 PM EST by Recovering_Democrat