Illusory memories are unsettling, but far from uncommon. Over the past several years, increasing experimental and theoretical attention has focused on misattribution errors that occur when some form of memory is present but attributed to an incorrect time, place or source. Demonstrations of errors and distortions in remembering raise a question with important theoretical and practical implications: how can memory misattributions be reduced or avoided? We consider evidence that documents the occurrence of illusory memories, particularly false recognition responses, and then review three ways in which memory distortion can be minimized.
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Supported by National Institute on Aging Grant AG08441 and a grant from the Human Frontiers Science Program. We appreciate the helpful comments of Kathleen McDermott, Roddy Roediger, Bill Rohwer and the anonymous reviewers.