Overdistribution in False Memory

There are two kinds of memory errors: forgetting errors and false memory errors. Forgetting errors are when a person cannot remember an event while false memory errors are when a person falsely remembers something. In the case of a false memory error, the true memory state is rejected. Recently, it has been proposed that there is a third kind of false memory error, called overdistribution, where you have both memory traces consistent with the false memory and you also have memory traces consistent with the true memory, and which memory you accept is dependent on what you are asked. Overdistribution has been found to make up a good proportion of “false memory” responses and several studies in the lab are focused on utilizing distractor words to investigate the difference between semantic and phonological false memory errors, immediate memory processes, and the relationship between various question probes.

Memory Monitoring

It has been found that older people have worse memory monitoring than young adults. For example, older adults have higher confidence for false memory compared to young adults. Meanwhile, due to the impairment of verbatim memory, older adults rely overwhelmingly more on gist memory than young adults. In order to test whether young and older adults’ difference in verbatim and gist memory contribute to the age difference in memory monitoring, we are trying to manipulate verbatim and gist traces separately and examine how such manipulations affect young and older adults’ memory monitoring.

Eye-Witness Misidentification

Eyewitness misidentifications were involved in 70% of the DNA exonerated wrongful convictions in the United States (Innocence Project, 2018).  It has been found that misidentifications are often paired with high witness confidence and as a result the predictive value of confidence ratings on eyewitness accuracy has been called into question. Previous research has found, however, that confidence ratings can be highly predictive of accuracy in certain conditions.  The aim of the current study is to try to better understand what makes confidence predictive of accuracy in some conditions, but not in others.