What is confabulation?
Confabulation is a memory disorder in which the individual produces false memories. When people confabulate, they either report remembering events that never occurred, or remember events as having occurred at an incorrect time or place. For example, a person who is confabulating may report a conversation that never occurred, or may report a conversation that occurred three years ago as having happened today.
What is important to remember is that confabulation is a direct result of damage to the brain — the person is not making things up as we traditionally understand it, but truly believes what he or she is reporting. The areas of the brain generally associated with confabulation are the frontal lobes and basal forebrain.
Confabulation can be addressed with psychotherapy and/or cognitive rehabilitation that involve helping people become more aware of their inaccuracies. Sometimes it will resolve on its own with time.
Dr. Celeste Campbell is a neuropsychologist in the Polytrauma Program at the Washington, DC Veterans Administration Medical Center. She has a long history of providing cognitive psychotherapy and developing residential behavioral management programs for children and adults.