Summary: A new EEG study reveals people who are less able to sustain their attention long terms are more susceptible to creating false memories.
Source: University of Nebraska Lincoln.
How we remember things, and how we falter in those memories, is a process that has been studied for decades, but human episodic memory is still poorly understood.
Using electroencephalogram technology, or EEG, John Kiat, a doctoral candidate, and Robert Belli, professor of psychology, were able to show that people who have less ability to sustain their attention long-term are more susceptible to creating false memories.
Kiat and colleagues in the Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior were able to demonstrate how a slow wave neural response — associated with sustained attention over extended time periods — predicted false memory formation during a later misinformation task, in which respondents were given a true-false test regarding images and narratives they’d read.
Participants who were less able to sustain attention were more vulnerable to false memory.
Understanding points of failure in memory-making such as this one help scientists learn how the episodic memory system works, which has direct, practical applications in the criminal justice system where many cases rely on eyewitness testimony.
Kiat plans to continue to work on uncovering the role of basic processes in the episodic memory system to help further explain its operation.
Source: Deann Gayman – University of Nebraska Lincoln
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
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Original Research: Abstract for “Attentional responses on an auditory oddball predict false memory susceptibility” by John E. Kiat, Dianna Long, and Robert F. Belli in Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience. Published June 20 2018.
Attentional responses on an auditory oddball predict false memory susceptibility
Attention and memory are highly integrated processes. Building on prior behavioral investigations, this study assesses the link between individual differences in low-level neural attentional responding and false memory susceptibility on the misinformation effect, a paradigm in which false event memories are induced via misleading post-event information. Twenty-four subjects completed the misinformation effect paradigm after which high-density (256-channel) EEG data was collected as they engaged in an auditory oddball task. Temporal-spatial decomposition was used to extract two attention-related components from the oddball data, the P3b and Classic Slow Wave. The P3b was utilized as an index of individual differences in salient target attentional responding while the slow wave was adopted as an index of variability in task-level sustained attention. Analyses of these components show a significant negative relationship between slow-wave responses to oddball non-targets and perceptual false memory endorsements, suggestive of a link between individual differences in levels of sustained attention and false memory susceptibility. These findings provide the first demonstrated link between individual differences in basic attentional responses and false memory. These results support prior behavioral work linking attention and false memory and highlight the integration between attentional processes and real-world episodic memory.