Not So Fabulous Confabulation

by Briza Westrope

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What's So Important About Confabulation?

Confabulation is something that one of my close friends suffers with every day. Although sufferers of Confabulation don't purposefully lie, they could be called untruthful or guilty of perjury. It's important to raise awareness of disorders when it can can help others understand and communicate with patients with those disorders.

What Is Confabulation?

Confabulation is unconscious fabricated memory making. People who live with confabulation, or people who confabulate, create false memories or distort true memories. Although the falsified memories may be completely bizarre or clearly fake, they're usually coherent and consistent with other memories that the patient has. Provoked Confabulation (or secondary confabulation) is a brain's response to a missing memory, and can happen in patients with amnesia or dementia. Spontaneous Confabulation (or primary confabulation) is seemingly involuntary and it's very rare, although more common in dementia patients. Verbal confabulations are telling fake memories (which are more common) and Behavioral confabulations are acting upon fake memories.

What's Happening With The Brain?

Patients who suffer from Confabulation can have problems with their frontal lobe pathology, but most theories on the cause of memory fabrication involve the patient's brain just trying to fill in the empty memory spaces. The empty spaces could be caused by aneurysms, Alzheimer's disease, or a thiamine deficiency caused by alcoholism. Of course, any situation where the process of recalling or storing memories could distort them and cause fabricated memory making to fill in any gaps.

Research and Psychology

To be diagnosed with Confabulation, one must take memory tests under the watch of a doctor or psychologist to see if the patient tests positive for Confabulation. There are different kinds of free-recall tests and recognition tasks. Because confabulation could be caused by mental disorders such as Alzheimer's, it's often looked for in patients with preexisting conditions. Much research has been done over confabulation in recent years, but there's still a lot to learn. However, there has been debate about how to test or treat Confabulation and research is still being done today through different kinds of neurological, pharmacological, and cognitive approaches.

Facts About Confabulation

  • could be caused by Korsakoff's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, or brain injuries
  • however, exact causes remain unknown
  • the word "Confabulate" could also mean to have a discussion
  • Confabulation is a relatively common occurance