July 1977

A Study of Confabulation

Author Affiliations

From the Psychology and Neurology Services, Boston Veterans Administration Hospital, and the Aphasia Research Center, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston.

Arch Neurol. 1977;34(7):429-433. doi:10.1001/archneur.1977.00500190063009

• Confabulation consequent to organic amnesia is a well-described clinical finding. A number of plausible theories of confabulation have been proposed, but the various claims and counterclaims have not been systematically tested. A standardized test battery that included four different kinds of questions plus measures of suggestibility and the tendency to utilize external cues was administered to ten amnesic patients who demonstrated varying degrees of confabulation. One additional patient, whose clinical condition changed dramatically during his hospital course, received the battery on a number of occasions.

Differences among patients were found in overall performance, degree of confabulation, and ability to use cues. Hypothesized relationships between confabulation and suggestibility, degree of memory disorder, and degree of disorientation were not confirmed. However, confabulation proved to be strongly related to the inability to withhold answers, to monitor one's own responses, and to provide verbal self-corrections. These results suggest a tentative model of the process of confabulation as well as a number of useful clinical signs indicating recovery from amnesia.