Confabulation is the falsification of episodic memory occurring in clear consciousness in association with amnesia; in other words, paramnesias are related as true events. However, most amnesic patients, suffering from medial temporal lobe/hippocampal lesions do not confabulate, and poor memory alone cannot explain confabulation. Concurrent hypothalamic/diencephalic and basal forebrain/ frontal cortex lesions may be required to develop this syndrome: a functional imaging study of an amnesic patient found a correlation between the presence of orbital and medial frontal hypoperfusion and confabulation.

Confabulating patients often give a fairly coherent and entirely plausible account of events or experiences, sometimes in response to the examiner’s suggestion.

Confabulations may be classified as:

  • Momentary; or
  • Fantastic: these may be of almost delusional intensity.

Confabulation is a classic feature of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, but is in fact rarely seen. It may also occur in cortical blindness (Anton’s syndrome).



Benson DF, Djenderedjian A, Miller BL et al. Neural basis of confabulation. Neurology 1996; 46: 1239-1243.
Berlyne N. Confabulation. British Journal of Psychiatry 1972; 120: 31-39. Downes JJ, Mayes AR. How bad memories can sometimes lead to fantastic beliefs and strange visions. In: Campbell R, Conway MA (eds.). Broken memories: case studies in memory impairment. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995: 115-123.


Cross References

Amnesia; Asomatognosia; Cortical blindness; Delusion; Paramnesia