Why experts get it wrong: being knowledgeable about a subject implants false memories

Experts are more likely to make mistakes about their specialist subject because knowing a lot about something doubles the risk of false memories, scientists have found.

Researchers at University College Dublin asked 489 people to rank seven topics, including football, politics and science from most to least interesting.

They then asked if they remembered events described in four news items about the topic they selected as most interesting and four items about the topic they selected as least interesting.

In each case, three of the events depicted had really happened and one was fictional.

The results showed that if someone was interested in a topic, this increased the frequency of accurate memories relating to that topic. But it also increased the number of false memories too – 25 per cent of people experienced a false memory in relation to an interesting topic, compared with 10 per cent in relation to a less interesting topic.