Memory--True or False? Processing and Structure in False Memory

Lillian Park :

Mentor: John F. Kihlstrom, Professor of Psychology

Current Bio:  Lillian is proud to be part of the original cohort of the Haas Scholars Program. She completed her Ph.D in Psychology at UC Berkeley with Dr. John Kihlstrom, her Haas Scholar mentor, in 2005. Then she did a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroscience at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, ON. In 2008, she moved to New York to become a professor of psychology at SUNY Old Westbury, where she is now the Chair of the department. Lillian and her husband are expecting their first child in September.

Haas Scholars Project: Lillian will be researching the phenomenon of false recall, in which a person confidently remembers something that did not occur. False memory has been a vexing problem in psychological theory and its clinical and forensic applications. A new paradigm suggests that people spontaneously generate associatively or thematically related material while they encode memories, and later confuse these self-generated items with what actually happened. For her Senior Honors Thesis in Psychology, Lillian proposes to advance the state of knowledge in the field by studying this spontaneous associative process in the laboratory, using human subjects. Her experiments will help her to synthesize several differing explanations for the phenomenon of false recall and to produce a concrete model of the cognitive processes involved. Her research into the way memory operates will have implications in many areas including eye-witness testimony.