Memory and Confabulation
Confabulation describes the emergence of memories of events and experiences that have never taken place. There are different forms with diverse mechanisms. One form, which we call behaviourally spontaneous confabulation, reflects a confusion of reality: the patients act according to their confabulations and are disoriented regarding time, place and their current role. Using experimental exploration of patients and imaging methods (PET, high-density EEG etc.) in healthy subjects, we discovered a mechanisms which is deficient in reality confusing patients and appears to be essential for maintaining thought and behaviour in phase with ongoing reality. We call it "Orbitofrontal reality filtering". In brief, whenever a thought/memory is activated, it passes after 200-300 ms through this filter, which depends on the posterior medial orbitofrontal cortex and adapts the upcoming thought's cortical format depending on its relation with current reality. The underlying mechanism seems to be extinction capacity.
We are currently exploring the relationship and precise timing between this (anterior limbic) mechanism and the encoding of information (dependent on the posterior limbic system).
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