Cognitive Processing

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 213–217 | Cite as

Comparison of activation level between true and false items in the DRM paradigm

  • Vincenzo Paolo SeneseEmail author
  • Ida Sergi
  • Tina Iachini
Research Report


The aim of the present study was to compare the activation levels of true and false memories in the Deese–Roediger–McDermott (DRM) paradigm. For this purpose, we used a lexical decision task (LDT) that can be considered a relative pure measure of activation. Participants had to study a list of words that were semantically associated to a critical non-presented word (CI), and afterwards had to classify the actually studied words, the CI and new words in the LDT. Results indicated that the classification latency of the CI was the same as actually studied words and shorter than new words. The results might be interpreted as evidence that the false and true memory items have the same activation level and that the false memory effect can be based on the indirect activation of the CI at the encoding.


False memory Activation level Lexical decision task DRM 


  1. Anderson JR (1983) A spreading activation theory of memory. J Verb Learn Verb Beh 22:261–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cabeza R, Rao SM, Wagner AD, Mayer AR, Schacter DL (2001) Can medial temporal lobe regions distinguish true from false? An event-related functional MRI study of veridical and illusory recognition memory. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 98:4805–4810CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Cotel SC, Gallo DA, Seamon JG (2008) Evidence that nonconscious processes are sufficient to produce false memories. Conscious Cogn 17(1):210–218CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Deese J (1959) On the prediction of occurrence of particular verbal intrusions in immediate recall. J Exp Psychol 58:17–22CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Dewhurst SA, Bould E, Knott LM, Thorley C (2008) The roles of encoding and retrieval processes in associative and categorical memory illusions. J Mem Lang. doi: 10.1016/j.jml.2008.09.002
  6. Gallo DA (2006) Associative memory illusions. Psychology Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  7. Gallo DA, Roediger HL III (2002) Variability among word lists in eliciting memory illusions: evidence for associative activation and monitoring. J Mem Lang 47:469–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gallo DA, Roediger HL III, McDermott KB (2001) Associative false recognition occurs without strategic criterion shifts. Psychon Bull Rev 8:579–586PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Gallo DA, Weiss JA, Schacter DL (2004) Reducing false recognition with criterial recollection tests: distinctiveness heuristic versus criterion shifts. J Mem Lang 51:473–493CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hancock TW, Hicks JL, Marsh RL, Ritschel L (2003) Measuring the activation level of critical lures in the Deese–Roediger–McDermott paradigm. Am J Psychol 116:1–14CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Johnson MK, Hashtroudi S, Lindsay DS (1993) Source monitoring. Psychon Bull 114:3–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. McDermott KB, Watson JM (2001) The rise and fall of false recall: the impact of presentation duration. J Mem Lang 45:160–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McKone E (2004) Distinguishing true from false memories via lexical decision as a perceptual implicit test. Aust J Psychol 56:42–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Meade ML, Watson JM, Balota DA, Roediger HL III (2007) The roles of spreading activation and retrieval mode in producing false recognition in DRM paradigm. J Mem Lang 56:305–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Nigro G, Brandimonte MA (2005) Falsi ricordi prospettici. Giorn It Psic 3:519–524Google Scholar
  16. Robinson KJ, Roediger HL III (1997) Associative processes in false recall and recognition. Psychol Sci 8:231–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Roediger HL III, Gallo DA (2004) Associative memory illusions. In: Pohl RF (ed) Cognitive illusions: a handbook on fallacies and biases in thinking, judgment and memory. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 309–326Google Scholar
  18. Roediger HL III, McDermott KB (1995) Creating false memories: remembering words not presented in lists. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 21:803–814CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Roediger HL III, McDermott KB (2000) Distortions of memory. In: Tulving E, Craik FIM (eds) Oxford handbook of memory. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 49–162Google Scholar
  20. Roediger HL III, Balota DA, Watson JM (2001a) Spreading activation and the arousal of false memories. In: Roediger HL III, Nairne JS, Neath I, Surprenant AM (eds) The nature of remembering: essays in honor of Robert G. Crowder. Am Psychol Assoc Press, Washington, DC, pp 95–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Roediger HL III, Watson JM, McDermott KB, Gallo DA (2001b) Factors that determine false recall: a multiple regression analysis. Psychon Bull Rev 8:385–407PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Schacter DL, Gallo DA, Kensinger EA (2007) The cognitive neuroscience of implicit and false memories: perspectives on processing specificity. In: Naime JS (ed) The foundations of remembering: essays honoring Henry L. Roediger III. Psychology Press, New York, pp 353–377Google Scholar
  23. Shapiro SS, Wilk MB (1965) An analysis of variance test for normality (complete samples). Biometrika 52:591–611Google Scholar
  24. Slotnick SD, Schacter DL (2004) A sensory signature that distinguishes true from false memories. Nat Neurosci 7:664–672CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Stadler MA, Roediger HL III, McDermott KB (1999) Norms for word lists that create false memories. Mem Cognit 27:494–500PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Tabanick BG, Fidell LS (1996) Using multivariate statistics, 3rd edn. Harper Collins College, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  27. Tse CS, Neely JH (2005) Assessing activation without source monitoring in the DRM false memory paradigm. J Mem Lang 53:532–550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zeelenberg R, Pecher D (2002) False memories and lexical decision: even twelve primes do not cause long-term semantic priming. Acta Psychol 109:269–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincenzo Paolo Senese
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ida Sergi
    • 1
  • Tina Iachini
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologySecond University of NaplesCasertaItaly

Personalised recommendations