Source Memory Failures: Comparing Source Misattribution to Sources of False Memories

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Virginia Tech

Successful episodic recollection occurs when an event properly binds with its context. Source misattribution demonstrates incorrect binding of a memory with its contextual information. By contrast, false memories are memories of events that did not occur. Although theoretically they should not be bound with contextual information, often, false memories are accompanied by contextual information. This phenomenon is known as content borrowing. This thesis project examined the differences between the two contextual memory errors. The DRM paradigm was used to induce both source misattributions and content borrowing. This allowed the neural differences between the two to be directly tested. No differences were found between source misattribution and content borrowing. However, false memories with content borrowing showed different neural activations from true memory with correct source, true memory with incorrect source, and correct rejection. This suggests that false memories and source misattributions may represent similar errors in memory that rely on gist memory traces.

fMRI, Source Misattribution, Content Borrowing, Episodic Memory