FALSE MEMORIES

DRMThe Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) paradigm (Roediger and McDermott, 1995) is a procedure to study false memories. In this paradigm, individuals are induced to falsely recall/recognize a nonstudied word (e.g. sleep), which is defined as the “critical lure”, through the previous study of a list of related words (e.g. bed, rest, awake, tired, dream, etc.).
Another example: individuals are presented with these words: door, glass, pane, shade, ledge, sill, house, open, curtain, frame, view, breeze, sash, screen, and shutter. These words that are strongly associated with the word window (the critical lure). When these individuals will try to recognize previously presented words (such as door, curtain, house, open etc…) in lists which contain also nonstudied words (as window) they will falsely recognize “window” as a studied word.
This ‘memory illusion’ effect has largely proved to be a robust phenomenon whereby the false recall/recognition rate can be as high as the true recall/recognition rate. Furthermore, such false memories are incredibly associated with high levels of confidence.
One hypothesis to explain how false memories occur in the DRM paradigm is that, when we hear list items during encoding or retrieval, we think about the critical non-presented associated word (the critical lure) because memory processes (once again in both phases of encoding or retrieval) spread through semantic (or categorical) associations. This could be at origin of some “familiarity feeling” with the word corresponding to the critical lure. The recognition of the nonstudied word (the critical lure) in successive words presentations could be the consequences of this sense of familiarity. Actually the degree of semantic association or strength between the studied words and the critical lure is critical for successive false recognitions.
To overcome this natural and almost unconscious occurrence of such false memories (critical luries) we should use some powerful capacities of inner control and monitoring. Thus, these capacities could be enhanced when the initial encoding of the studied words is potentiated (for example associating verbal and visual stimuli, or pronouncing the word aloud) or when the subjects are warned that they could falsely recognize items basing on spontaneous associations.
However, the DRM paradigm shows us how our recollection of memories could be easily influenced.
Indeed it has been shown, as it was naturally supposed to be, that fatigue, sleep, emotions, age, gender, and mood states (anxiety or depression) influence the individual’s performances with the DRM paradigm.
It is not completely clear whether and in which state of Alzheimer’s disease, patients perform with the DRM paradigm differently than normal subjects (matched for age and cultural level). The DRM paradigm has been also used to study amnesic patients with different pathologies, other form of dementia and schizophrenia.
Unfortunately lists of words are quite variable across the experiments, and different studies can give different results within the same categories of patient.
I always thought that is would be interesting to find persons who are able to overcome the natural tendency to produce false memories with the DRM paradigm. High power of control on false memories could it be one of the prerequisites of genius?

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