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Sleep deprivation may increase susceptibility to false memories
Date:7/23/2014

Not getting enough sleep may increase the likelihood of forming false memories, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

In a study conducted by psychological scientist Steven J. Frenda of the University of California, Irvine and colleagues, sleep-deprived people who viewed photographs of a crime being committed and then read false information about the photos were more likely to report remembering the false details in the photos than were those who got a full night's sleep.

Research has demonstrated that failing to get your full eight hours interferes with cognitive functioning, but Frenda noticed a gap in the literature when it came to sleep and memory.

"Over the years I noticed that whenever I had a bad night's sleep, my perception and memory seemed to get fuzzy until I had a good recovery sleep," explains Frenda. "I was surprised to find that there were so few empirical studies connecting sleep deprivation with memory distortion in an eyewitness context. The studies that do exist look mostly at sleep deprived people's ability to accurately remember lists of wordsnot real people, places and events."

A preliminary study conducted by Frenda and colleagues suggested that getting 5 hours of sleep or less was associated with the formation of false memories. The researchers then designed an experiment to investigate whether pulling an all-nighter would increase the likelihood of forming false memories.

Upon arriving to the lab in the late evening, the 104 college-age participants were assigned to one of four groups. Two groups were presented with a series of photos depicting a crime being committed as soon as they arrived to the lab one group was then allowed to go to sleep, while the other group had to stay awake all night in the lab. The remaining two groups did things in the reverse order they either slept or stayed awake all night and
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Contact: Anna Mikulak
amikulak@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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