Laboratoire Mémoire, Cerveau et Cognition (MC2
Lab), Université de Paris, France
Institut de la mémoire et de la maladie d’Alzheimer (IM2A), Département de neurologie, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, AP-HP, Paris, France
Institut Universitaire de France, France
False memories refer to falsely remembering something that did not happen or that happened differently. The effects of age on episodic memory underlie both the decline in real memories and the increase in false memories. But, what is the richness and what is the feeling of reality of false memories in the elderly? This mini-review on false memory in young and older adults presents the results from the literature using one of the most used paradigms in the laboratory to study false memories - the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm. This paradigm generally consists in the presentation of semantically associated items-lists (words or images) related to a non-presented critical lure (e.g., bed, rest, awake …, the critical lure is sleep). During free recall or recognition tests, the participants regularly produce false memories (intrusions or false recognitions of the critical lures), increasingly with aging. We specifically ask the question of the richness of the false memory trace in young and older adults in terms of contextual associations (What-Where-When-Details binding) and phenomenological characteristics (remembering, knowing, guessing). We propose to examine this issue using a naturalistic episodic memory task via navigation in a virtual environment enriched with series of associated elements (e.g., vegetables stand) linked to non-presented critical lures (e.g., carrots). Based on preliminary results, we propose an integrative model of memory trace which can explain the differences observed between young and old people on the richness of their false memories.