Can False Memories Prime Problem Solutions for Healthy Older Adults and Those With Alzheimer’s Disease?

Shazia Akhtar, Mark Howe, Kedron Hoepstine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


ObjectiveRecent research has shown that false memories can have a positive consequence on human cognition in both children and young adults. The present experiment investigated whether false memories could have similar positive effects by priming solutions to insight-based problems in healthy older adults and people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).MethodParticipants were asked to solve compound remote associate task (CRAT) problems, half of which had been preceded by the presentation of Deese/Roediger-McDermott (DRM) lists whose critical lures (CL) were also the solutions to those problems.ResultsThe results showed that regardless of cognitive ability, when the CL was falsely recognized, CRAT problems were solved more often and reliably faster than problems that were not primed by a DRM list. When the CL was not falsely recognized, CRAT problem solution rates and times were no different from when there was no DRM priming.DiscussionThese findings are consistent with predictions from theories of associative activation and demonstrate the importance of automatic spreading activation processes in memory across the life span.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbergby064
JournalJournals of Gerontology, Series B
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jun 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jun 2018


  • Alzheimer’s disease, Compound remote associates task, DRM paradigm, False memory, Priming problem solving


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