Understanding the contribution of individual differences to domain-general and domain-specific components of false memories in both young and older adults

Project: Research project

Project Details


The proposed project seeks to examine and understand individual differences underlying the occurrence of false memories, which is defined as remembering an event incorrectly or differently than how it originally occurred. The investigation of individual differences underlying both cognitive and neural variability in memory performance will be a critical factor in understanding the sources of false memories across the lifespan. By understanding the mechanisms that lead to these memory errors, we can better understand how to avoid these errors. The project will examine the benefits of a cognitive training strategy aimed at reducing false memories in older individuals. The research will use both behavioral and neuroimaging (fMRI) methods to understand the basis of false memories. Neuroimaging analyses will include univariate, functional connectivity, and multivariate analyses to uncover the neural mechanism underlying both true and false memories. This will expand understanding of factors that contribute to false memories across the lifespan. The research will train undergraduate and graduate students on cognitive neuroscience of memory and cognitive aging and will educate the public about memory and cognitive processes that change with age.

Memory research typically aims to identify how memories are represented in the brain. Aging research typically aims to identify sources of age-related deficits in memory. The current proposal combines these goals to reveal the cognitive and neural processes underlying a significant source of error in cognitive aging, that of false memories. The long-term goal is to identify domain-general and domain-specific sources of variance associated with false memories across the lifespan and identify effective, evidence-based strategies for reducing memory errors. This project aims to identify the cognitive and neural markers of such variance as well as individual differences factors that contribute to false memories. The research will also examine the effects of cognitive training in older adults to successfully reduce the incidence of false memories. To do so, the work will utilize behavioral methods examining individual differences in false memories in older adults, as well as advanced neuroimaging methods to investigate how neural information is processed, and represented, throughout the brain. By understanding both common and unique influences associated with the susceptibility to false memories across difference sources, the project can identify strategies for effectively reducing false memories, thereby ameliorating age-related memory decline.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date1/1/005/31/24


  • National Science Foundation: $848,492.00


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