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Neuropsychology. 2015 Jul;29(4):550-60. doi: 10.1037/neu0000195. Epub 2015 Apr 20.

The imagination inflation effect in healthy older adults and patients with mild Alzheimer's disease.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Bedford Veterans Affairs Hospital.
2
Department of Psychology, Texas State University.
3
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh.
4
Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, VA Boston Healthcare System.
5
Boston Center for Memory.
6
Boston University Alzheimer's Disease Center, Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

The imagination inflation effect is a type of memory distortion defined as an increased tendency to falsely remember that an item has been seen, or an action has been performed, when it has only been imagined. For patients with very mild Alzheimer's disease (AD), susceptibility to the imagination inflation effect could have significant functional consequences in daily life.

METHOD:

We assessed whether patients with very mild AD were more or less susceptible to the imagination inflation effect when compared with healthy older adults. In the first session, participants were read an action statement such as "fill the pillbox" and engaged in 1 of 3 activities: listened to the statement being read, performed the action, or imagined performing the action. During the second session, participants imagined action statements from the first session, as well as new action statements. During the recognition test, participants were asked to determine whether action statements were or were not performed during the first session.

RESULTS:

We found that imagining performing actions increased the tendency of patients with very mild AD to falsely recall the action as having been performed to an extent similar to that of healthy older adults.

CONCLUSION:

We concluded that, similar to healthy older adults, patients with very mild AD were susceptible to the imagination inflation effect, which we attributed to difficulties with source monitoring and reliance on familiarity.

PMID:
25893972
PMCID:
PMC4486511
DOI:
10.1037/neu0000195
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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