The Effect of Sleep on False Memories
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A false memory is recalling incorrect information or recalling an event that did not happen. Everyone is susceptible to false memories. There is no known cure or defense and relatively little is known about how they occur. Though there is relatively little known, much research shows sleep, consolidation specifically, is crucial to solidifying memories (Payne, Chambers, and Kensinger, 2012). Consolidation is a process where new, labile memories are integrated into the vast network of pre-existing long-term memories. A key component of this process is the active re-processing of these memories because this is the version of the memory that will be recalled (Diekelmann and Born, 2010). Memory is malleable, so it is important to understand how it is affected. This study seeks to find a connection between the number of hours of sleep a subject gets and how many times they experience a false memory. Using the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm (DRM), subjects were asked to memorize three lists of 15 words all related to a single theme word. Then, subjects were asked to recall words from each list. A false memory was counted each time a subject mistakenly reported the theme word. We hypothesized that subjects sleeping a “normal” eight hours per night would experience fewer false memories compared to subjects who slept greater than eight or less than five hours per night. We sought to answer the question: is someone more or less susceptible to false memories based on the number of hours they sleep? However, results suggest there is not a significant relation between amount of sleep and false memory.