"Most of the time our autobiographical memories and beliefs match up - we remember last week's journey to a conference and believe that journey really took place. Other times, we believe an event happened - we know we travelled to that conference - but our memory for the event eludes us, perhaps because the trip was so boring or because we drank too much wine.
Recently, psychologists have begun to examine the rarer reverse scenario, in which we have what feels like a memory for an event, but we know (or believe) that the event never happened - we recall the conference journey but know we couldn't have made it. A recent survey (pdf) of over 1,500 undergrads found that nearly a quarter reported having a non-believed memory of this kind. Now Andrew Clark and his colleagues have gone further - for the first time actually provoking non-believed memories in the lab. (...)
A question for future research on non-believed memories is whether belief is needed for the initial formation of the memories, even if that belief later falls away. "Or, alternatively," the researchers said, "can memories form completely in the absence of belief?"."