John Kiat

The choices we make and experiences we have ultimately end up stored in memory. When retrieved, we have to infer whether a particular memory is true or if it changed over time. In theory, this can be a long and effortful process but in practicality, most of these decisions are made fairly rapidly. When you think about what you ate yesterday for instance, few would spend hours in contemplation before deciding their recollections were true. Nonetheless, research has shown that many of our recollections are biased—painting a rosier picture of reality—or outright false. Such distortions have been shown to have considerable psychological (Bernstein & Loftus, 2009), legal (Loftus, 2003) and even political consequences (Frenda et al., 2013). Building on current interest in integrating attentional processes with memory (Kiyonaga & Egner, 2013) and understanding the processes differentiating true and false memories (Johnson, Raye, Mitchell, & Ankudowich, 2012) my secondary line of research focuses on how attentional biases can index and potentially lead to memory distortions.


Applying new techniques to well-established paradigms, while challenging, has lots of potential with regards to making valuable contributions to a field. To that end, I developed an EEG-friendly version of the well-established misinformation effect paradigm drawing on the materials of Okado & Stark (2005) and conducted an exploratory investigation with a college student sample, utilizing a 24-hour delay between event + misinformation exposure and test. My findings (published in the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory)  showed the neural signature of true memories to display evidence of increased levels of attentional and recollective activity relative to false memories, demonstrating a possible mechanism for distinguishing between true and false event memories (at least on a relative ranking scale) within a reasonable period of intervening time.

We’ve recently wrapped up a series of projects investigating oscillatory encoding activity on the misinformation paradigm, linking basic attentional processes to misinformation susceptibility and source monitoring failures (all which are currently under review) so watch this space for more news on that soon~! One thing I can share from that project is this beautiful P300 component extraction result.

Relevant Publications\Posters

Kiat, J.E., Belli, R.F. A High-Density EEG Investigation of Misinformation Effect : Differentiating between True and False Perceptual Episodic Memories. 141, 199-208.

Kiat, J.E., Belli, R.F. (2015, November). A High-Density EEG investigation of the Misinformation Effect: Differentiating between True and False Memories. Poster presented at the Psychonomic Society Annual Scientific Meeting, Chicago, IL. Poster Link

Kiat, J.E., Belli, R.F. Neural Activity during Event Encoding and Subsequent False Memory Formation Susceptibility. (in review)

Kiat, J.E., Long, D., Belli, R.F. Attentional Responses on the Auditory Oddball predict False Memory Susceptibility. (in review)

Kiat, J.E., Belli, R.F. A High-Density EEG investigation of Source Feature Retrieval. (in review)