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The Effectiveness of Item-Specific Encoding and Conservative Responding to Reduce False Memories in Patients with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Mild Alzheimer’s Disease Dementia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 August 2020

Christopher Malone*
Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA William James College, Newton, MA, USA
Katherine W. Turk
Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Rocco Palumbo
Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
Andrew E. Budson
Center for Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Department of Neurology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
*Correspondence and reprint requests to: Christopher Malone, Christopher Malone M2 1, Mannheim68161, Germany. Tel: +49 621 1703-6316. E-mail:



Patients with mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia are more susceptible to false memories than healthy older adults. Evidence that these patients can use cognitive strategies to reduce false memory is inconsistent.


In the present study, we examined the effectiveness of conservative responding and item-specific deep encoding strategies, alone and in combination, to reduce false memory in a categorized word list paradigm among participants with mild Alzheimer’s disease dementia (AD), amnestic single-domain mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and healthy age-matched older controls (OCs). A battery of clinical neuropsychological measures was also administered.


Although use of conservative responding alone tended to reduce performance in the MCI and OC groups, both deep encoding alone and deep encoding combined with conservative strategies led to improved discrimination for both gist memory and item-specific recollection for these two groups. In the AD group, only gist memory benefited from the use of strategies, boosted equally by deep encoding alone and deep encoding combined with conservative strategies; item-specific recollection was not improved. No correlation between the use of these strategies and performance on neuropsychological measures was found.


These results suggest that further evaluation of these strategies is warranted as they have the potential to reduce related and unrelated memory errors and increase both gist memory and item-specific recollection in healthy older adults and individuals with amnestic MCI. Patients with AD were less able to benefit from such strategies, yet were still able to use them to reduce unrelated memory errors and increase gist memory.

Regular Research
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2020

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