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Awareness and confabulation

Shanks, Michael F.; McGeown, William J.; Guerrini, Chiara; Venneri, Annalena


Michael F. Shanks

William J. McGeown

Annalena Venneri


Objective: A single case study with control and normative data of a 74-year-old retired businessman with amnestic mild cognitive impairment, who had spontaneous confabulations concerning fantastic exploits and magical powers as well as déjà vécu experiences. Methods and Results: His neuropsychological profile showed episodic memory impairment including deficits of recent episodic autobiographical memories and of recognition, but performance was within normal limits on tests assessing source memory for words, the ability to suppress irrelevant items on a continuous recognition memory task, and the detection of stimulus frequency. There were discrete impairments in an ad hoc test measuring his ability to detect and discriminate the source of a range of material including information derived from personal and public events, invented material, and episodes culled from his personal reading. Although his source memory for autobiographical information was normal, he attributed 20% of the invented material and personal readings and 15% of the public events either to his own experience or to that of someone he knew personally or to someone else. Conclusions: This evidence suggests that none of the current theoretical accounts of spontaneous confabulations is sufficiently explanatory. Instead, an argument is developed that both fantastic confabulation and déjà vécu arose from a more fundamental disorder of awareness.

Publication Date 2014-04
Journal Neuropsychology
Print ISSN 0894-4105
Electronic ISSN 1931-1559
Publisher American Psychological Association
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 3
Pages 406-414
APA6 Citation Shanks, M. F., McGeown, W. J., Guerrini, C., & Venneri, A. (2014). Awareness and confabulation. Neuropsychology, 28(3), 406-414.
Keywords Personal memory, Autobiographical memory, Mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer's disease, Déjà vécu
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2016 American Psychological Association
Additional Information This is an author's accepted manuscript version of an article published in Neuropsychology, 2014, v.28 issue 3. This article may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.