Memory & Cognition

, Volume 33, Issue 8, pp 1414–1421 | Cite as

When do false memories cross language boundaries in English—Spanish bilinguals?

  • Brooke H. Sahlin
  • Matthew G. Harding
  • John G. Seamon


To determine whether false memories cross language boundaries, we presented English—Spanish bilinguals with conceptually related word lists for five study—test trials. Some lists were heard in English, some in Spanish, and they were then followed by a recognition memory test composed of studied words, conceptually related nonstudied critical words, and unrelated words presented in the same language used at study or in a different language. Even though participants were instructed to recognize only previously heard words, they falsely recognized both same-language and differentlanguage critical words. With practice, participants increased their accurate recognition of list words and decreased their false recognition of critical words when the study—test language was the same, and they decreased their false recognition of list words and critical words when the language differed. False memories can cross language boundaries when participants rely on conceptual representations from the word lists, but these errors decrease over trials as participants increasingly rely on languagespecific lexical representations.


False Memory False Recognition Word Type Critical Word Accurate Recognition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brooke H. Sahlin
    • 1
  • Matthew G. Harding
    • 1
  • John G. Seamon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWesleyan UniversityMiddletown

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