CE28 - Cognition, éducation, formation tout au long de la vie

False memories across the lifespan – FALSELIFE

FALSE memory across the LIFEspan (FALSELIFE)

FALSELIFE addresses what is often described as one of the most fundamental issues in cognitive psychology, namely the relations between working memory (WM) and long-term memory (LTM). The WM-LTM relations are at the heart of human cognition because they sustain how we are able to learn new knowledge and skills, to use previously acquired knowledge, and to maintain autonomous daily life functioning.

Objectives

FALSELIFE addresses this challenge from an innovative perspective by examining the role of WM in the formation of false memories. False memory is well-established LTM phenomenon in which semantically related associates are confidently and falsely remembered as studied items (e.g., Roediger & McDermott, 1995). However, this false memory effect was observed at short delays as well (e.g., Atkins & Reuter-Lorenz, 2008). Recently, we put forward a new theoretical account emphasizing the crucial role of WM maintenance in the emergence of short and long-term false memories (Abadie & Camos, 2018). <br /> <br />FALSELIFE’s objective is to better understand the mechanisms underlying false memories by examining how they change across the lifespan. Drawing on our theoretical account, I propose an ambitious and original programme of lifespan studies investigating the role of WM maintenance mechanisms in short and long term false memories. <br /> <br />FALSELIFE’s first aim is to examine the formation of false memories from a developmental perspective by comparing false memories in older children that spontaneously use WM maintenance mechanisms and younger children that do not yet use any maintenance strategies. <br /> <br />FALSELIFE’s second aim is to investigate the effect of age-related decline in WM maintenance on the occurrence of false memories.

There are two types of experiments in this project, the first ones are conducted with children and the second ones are comparisons between young adults and older adults.

In the first part of the project, brief activities implying memory are offered to 4 and 10 years old children. A set of images and words from themes that are known by children (e.g., circus, farm) are visually or orally presented. The children have to maintain them to recognize or recall them a few seconds later. Several studies are conducted with the same kind of task in which the instructions given to the children, the presence or absence of a concurrent task during the retention interval or between the presentation of each memory items, the kind of link between the memory items, the presentation mode of memory items, are varied.

In the second part of the project, tasks requiring to maintain and recall several items while performing a concurrent task are proposed to young adults (18-30 years old) and older adults (60-75 years old). Memory items are semantically related words or images. Several studies are conducted using the same kind of task in which the instructions given to the participants, the level of difficulty of the concurrent task during the retention interval or the possibility to maintain memory items in the phonological loop, are varied.

We are interested in false memories, namely false recognitions or recalls of items semantically related to the memory items but that have never been presented.

In the first part of the project, we expect that children from 4 to 6 years old make more short-term false memories than children from 8 to 10 years old because of the increase of the use of maintenance mechanisms in WM in older children. By contrast, older children should make more long-term false memories than younger children because the first ones have more knowledge and use more working memory maintenance strategies that allow them to maintain the general meaning that links memory items.

In the second part of the project, we expect that short-term false memories do not increase as age increases because some short-term maintenance strategies are preserved during aging. By contrast, we expect that long-term false memories increase with age because of the greater propensity of older adults to use general meaning that links memory items rather than the detail of each of them, to retrieve them in memory.

FALSELIFE has the potential to offer new methods to help people at all stages in childhood and adulthood to resist memory distortions by improving WM maintenance and maximizing verbatim accessibility.

in progress

FALSELIFE s’intéresse à ce qui a souvent été décrit comme l’une des questions fondamentales de la psychologie cognitive, celle des relations entre la mémoire de travail (MT) et de la mémoire à long-terme (MLT). Les relations entre la MT et la MLT sont au cœur de la cognition humaine parce qu’elles soutiennent notre capacité à apprendre de nouvelles connaissances et habiletés, à utiliser nos connaissances acquises antérieurement, et à préserver un fonctionnement autonome dans la vie quotidienne. FALSELIFE relève ce défi en adoptant une perspective innovante qui consiste à examiner le rôle de la MT dans la formation des faux souvenirs. Le phénomène de fausse mémoire est bien établi et est supposé refléter l'influence de la MLT. Il s’agit d’un phénomène selon lequel des items sémantiquement reliés sont rappelés faussement et avec confiance comme étant des items étudiés (e.g., Roediger & McDermott, 1995). Toutefois, cet effet de fausse mémoire a aussi été observé à court-terme (e.g., Atkins & Reuter-Lorenz, 2008). Récemment, nous avons proposé un nouveau modèle théorique qui met l’emphase sur le rôle crucial du maintien en MT dans l’émergence de faux souvenirs à court et à long-terme (Abadie & Camos, 2018). L’objectif de FALSELIFE est de mieux comprendre les mécanismes qui sous-tendent les faux souvenirs en examinant comment ils évoluent au cours de la vie. En m’appuyant sur notre modèle théorique, je propose un programme original et ambitieux composé d’études menées à différentes étapes de la vie, qui permettra d’examiner le rôle des mécanismes de maintien en MT sur les faux souvenirs à court et à long-terme. Le premier objectif de FALSELIFE est d’étudier la formation des faux souvenirs en adoptant une perspective développementale en comparant les faux souvenirs chez des enfants qui utilisent spontanément les mécanismes de maintien en MT et chez des enfants plus jeunes qui n’utilisent pas encore les stratégies de maintien (Work Package 1). Le second objectif de FALSELIFE est d’examiner l’effet du déclin du maintien en MT lié à l’avancée en âge sur l’apparition des faux souvenirs (Work Package 2). FALSELIFE a le potentiel d’offrir de nouvelles méthodes pour aider les personnes à différentes étapes de l’enfance et de l’âge adulte, à résister aux distorsions de la mémoire en améliorant le maintien en MT et en maximisant l’accessibilité des souvenirs détaillés.

Project coordinator

Madame Marlène Abadie (Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

LPC Laboratoire de psychologie cognitive
Université de Fribourg / Département de Psychologie

Help of the ANR 178,896 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2019 - 36 Months

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