How do we create false memories?

A new study published in the journal of the Association of Psychological Science in the article talking about the influence of age stereotypes on performance and memory errors in the elderly.

Anna Thomas, associate Professor of psychology and Director of the laboratory for Cognitive aging and memory tufts University intends to explore how negative stereotypes about aging may affect memory performance in the elderly.

Thomas has conducted research on a group of elderly and young using a list of semantically related words. Participants were given a list of words related to the concept of "sleep", such as "bed", "leisure", "awake", "tired" and "night". Although the word "dream" itself is not actually present, older and younger adults mistakenly pointed out that in their opinion this word was included in the list, but older people often made this mistake.

"Older people often falsely remembering words not presented in the list, rather than young people. We studied whether it is possible to reduce these age differences in the manifestation of false memory by reducing the impact of negative stereotypes about aging," says Thomas.

According to Thomas, older people may assume that their memory is getting worse because of their age. To test this theory, Thomas said particular group of participants (which included both elderly and young people) that their memory would be tested, and that older people tend to allow a lot more mistakes on the tests of memory than young. Another group of participants led to believe that this is more a test of language perception than the memory test.

Thomas found that older people were less likely to show a false memory, if they were not informed about age-related differences in memory performance in the elderly before testing.

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