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Biological Basis for False Memories Revealed

Did you really see that? An image from a test for false memories developed by Ken Paller and colleagues of Northwestern University.
Did you really see that? An image from a test for false memories developed by Ken Paller and colleagues of Northwestern University.

It's easy enough to forget something that happened. It's also possible to remember something that didn't happen. Researchers have used magnetic resonance imaging of the brain to record what happens when someone retrieves a real memory -- and what happens when that same person conjures up an imagined or "false memory."

As NPR's Michelle Trudeau reports, the study found that the parts of the brain used to perceive a real object overlap with those used to imagine that object. Because of this overlap, brain imaging is unlikely at this point to be useful in determining who is remembering accurately and who is remembering a false memory.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Michelle Trudeau
Michelle Trudeau began her radio career in 1981, filing stories for NPR from Beijing and Shanghai, China, where she and her husband lived for two years. She began working as a science reporter and producer for NPR's Science Desk since 1982. Trudeau's news reports and feature stories, which cover the areas of human behavior, child development, the brain sciences, and mental health, air on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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