Patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) often demonstrate high rates of false memories, leading to stressful and frustrating situations for both patients and caregivers in everyday life. Sometimes these false memories are due to failures in monitoring the source of the information. In the current study, we examined interventions aimed to enhance the use of the metacognitive "recall-to-reject" memory strategy. Such interventions could improve source memory and decrease false memory in patients with MCI. Because the picture superiority effect (better memory for pictures compared to words) has been shown to be present in both patients with MCI and healthy older controls, we investigated whether pictures could help patients with MCI use a recall-to-reject strategy in a simulation of real-world source memory task. In this experiment, patients with MCI and healthy older adults were asked to simulate preparing for and then taking a trip to the market. Subjects first studied 30 pictures of items in their "cupboard," followed by a list of 30 words of items on their "shopping list." At test, participants saw 90 pictures (30 cupboard, 30 list, 30 new) organized as they would be if walking down the market aisles, and are provided with either standard or metacognitive instructions. With standard instructions, they were asked if they needed to buy the item. With the metacognitive instructions, they were asked a series of questions to help guide them through a recall-to-reject strategy to highlight the different sources of memories. Results showed that the metacognitive instructions did significantly reduce the false memory rates for patients with MCI. Further studies need to investigate how to best implement these practical strategies into the everyday lives of patients.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; False recognition; Mild cognitive impairment; Retrieval monitoring.
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