Provoked confabulations in Alzheimer's disease

Janine M. Cooper, Michael F. Shanks, Annalena Venneri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Confabulation in Alzheimer's disease (AD) has been the subject of limited investigation. When studied, the phenomenon has been found to share characteristics with memory distortions produced by neurologically intact individuals. Previous studies that have investigated confabulation in AD have failed to take into account the characteristics of the disease and the presence of confabulations in the retrieval of recent autobiographical memory (ABM). The aim of this study was to develop a test that could investigate the tendency to confabulate in recent autobiographical memory that was specifically created for eliciting confabulatory behaviours in patients with AD. Four experiments have been carried out. In Experiment 1, AD patients who have yet to show confabulatory behaviour were compared to elderly adults. The results revealed that AD patients produced significantly more confabulations on the new test compared to elderly adults. Experiment 2 investigated if the results of the initial experiment were due to AD patients having limited working memory capacity that would lead to difficulties in performing the test compared with elderly adults as AD patients would be in a condition of memory overload. The results showed that even when compared with the performance of elderly individuals under memory overload condition, AD patients still produced more confabulations than elderly adults. Using a correlational approach Experiments 3 and 4 revealed that a high production of provoked confabulatory answers were associated with poor scores on personal episodic memory measures but not with other measures of cognitive functioning such as working memory and/or executive function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1697-1707
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • Ageing
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Autobiographical memory
  • Confabulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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