Falselife ANR

Research on false memories throughout life

FALSELIFE addresses what is often described as one of the most fundamental issues in cognitive psychology, namely the relations between working memory (WM) and long-term memory (LTM). The WM-LTM relations are at the heart of human cognition because they sustain how we are able to learn new knowledge and skills, to use previously acquired knowledge, and to maintain autonomous daily life functioning.


FALSELIFE addresses this challenge from an innovative perspective by examining the role of WM in the formation of false memories. False memory is a well-established LTM phenomenon in which semantically related associates are confidently and falsely remembered as studied items (e.g., Roediger & McDermott, 1995). However, this false memory effect was observed at short delays as well (e.g., Atkins & Reuter-Lorenz, 2008). Recently, we put forward a new theoretical account emphasizing the crucial role of WM maintenance in the emergence of short and long-term false memories (Abadie & Camos, 2019). FALSELIFE’s objective is to better understand the mechanisms underlying false memories by examining how they change across the lifespan. Drawing on our theoretical account, we propose an ambitious and original programme of lifespan studies investigating the role of WM maintenance mechanisms in short and long term false memories.

FALSELIFE’s first aim is to examine the formation of false memories from a developmental perspective by comparing false memories in older children that spontaneously use WM maintenance mechanisms and younger children that do not yet use any maintenance strategies.

FALSELIFE’s second aim is to investigate the effect of age-related decline in WM maintenance on the occurrence of false memories.