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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Uninvited and unwanted: False memories for words predicted but not seen


Previous demonstrations of false memories for predicted but not presented words used slow encoding and immediate retrieval conditions, potentially exacerbating false memory effects. We present two experiments that investigated whether false memories also occur under self-paced encoding and delayed retrieval conditions, and whether false memories are reduced when the initial prediction was disconfirmed by an implausible word, thought to elicit false memory suppression. Results showed that previous demonstrations of false memories were not contingent on the task conditions: False memories also occur when language processing is self-paced, and they affect longer-term memory structures. Crucially, false memories emerged regardless of whether the prediction-disconfirming word was plausible or not. Results are evaluated against a recent psycho-linguistic account that makes diverging predictions regarding the processing consequences of mild and severe violations of plausibility.

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