Models of confabulation

A critical review and a new framework

Kasey Metcalf*, Robyn Langdon, Max Coltheart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

60 Citations (Scopus)


Confabulation can be defined as statements or actions that involve distortions of memories. This paper reviews current theories of confabulation focusing on source monitoring, temporal-context, and retrieval theories. The attributes and criticisms of these three models are discussed. From this review, a three-factor cognitive-neuropsychological framework is proposed, which can be used to explain the variable symptoms of confabulation. The framework takes its basis from the Langdon and Coltheart (2000a, 2000b) cognitive model of delusional belief formation. The model suggests that two deficits are likely in most cases of confabulation - an executive control retrieval deficit and an evaluation deficit. It also takes into consideration how the general organization of the autobiographical memory store and a person's individual emotional/motivational biases can influence confabulatory symptoms and content. This is an overarching framework that can be used to model confabulations, and it builds upon links between delusions and confabulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-47
Number of pages25
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2007


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