The Science Behind Confabulation

Psychology Memory Smore, By Brooklyn Rodgers

Why I Chose Confabulation:

I decided to do my smore on this topic because I thought it would be interesting to discover how/why people create false memories. It also seems kind of spooky that our brains could do that without us even realizing. The research from this topic could give myself and others tips on how to realize what is a false memory so we could detect those and figure out what really happened at the time.

What Exactly IS Confabulation?

The Definition: Confabulation is a memory disturbance, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world, without the conscious intention to deceive.
The Explanation: One of the most interesting things about confabulation (false-memory making) is that the actual cause is unknown. The type of memories created can range from something completely normal like what you ate for dinner to something wild like becoming an astronaut. The people experiencing confabulation honestly think they are telling the truth about these memories and can not distinguish from whats real and what their brain has created.
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The Research and Psychologist:

Confabulation is mostly studied by scientists in the field of neuropsychology and cognitive neurosciences. Psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin's research suggests that there are two categories of confabulation, simple and fantastic. The simple category encompasses normal, everyday memories that have been fabricated due to errors in the temporal ordering of real events, while fantastic encompasses bizarre memories that have not been rooted in true memory. Among these two categories of confabulation there are many theories that explain this falsehood of memory making. One of the most interesting theories is the Self-Identity:

Self-identity Theory: The emotional component in the brain of someone with already existing memory issues fills in gaps to help them maintain their concept of self.

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What Happens in the Brain?

Though the cause is widely unknown, most research suggests that confabulation is due to problems with retrieving long term memory. It has been suggested that through injury or disruption there is an issue with the processes that control retrieval of information from this part of the brain. In cases where physical damage was inflicted the areas most affected in association with this disorder were the frontal cortex, medial temporal lobe, basal fore brain, septum, fornix, or anterior hypothalamus. Lesions can also affect these areas methods of communication.
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Other Interesting Stuff:

Earlier in Psychology we learned about the experiments done on split brain patients who had no form of communication between the two hemispheres of their brain. However, there were also experiments done on patients like these to test confabulation.
The Background:
Split brain patients have no communication between the two halves of their brain, which means that the right brain (which controls the left side of the body), and the left brain (which controls the right side of the body) are unable to coordinate with one another. In traditional experiments a patient would be asked to stare at the middle of a screen while various images were projected onto the left or right side of their visual field. The experimenter would ask the patient to draw pictures or explain what they saw. If an image was shown on the persons right field of vision, say a dog, the patient would be able to describe what it was. If shown on the left field of vision then the patient would say they saw nothing at all. This is because the left side of the brain, which controls speech and motor function, was unable to describe what the right brain saw due to the lack of communication.
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When patients with confabulation disorders were put in the same exact experimental conditions, instead of asking the person what they drew when seeing the image with the right side of their brain, the patients would be asked WHY they drew it. Of course, none of them knew why, but they would all confabulate some completely random reason for drawing the image and fully believe it. This proved to happen almost every single time without fail.