The neuropsychology of autobiographical memory.

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This special issue of Cortex focuses on the relative contribution of different neural networks to memory and the interaction of 'core' memory processes with other cognitive processes. In this article, we examine both. Specifically, we identify cognitive processes other than encoding and retrieval that are thought to be involved in memory; we then examine the consequences of damage to brain regions that support these processes. This approach forces a consideration of the roles of brain regions outside of the frontal, medial-temporal, and diencephalic regions that form a central part of neurobiological theories of memory. Certain kinds of damage to visual cortex or lateral temporal cortex produced impairments of visual imagery or semantic memory; these patterns of impairment are associated with a unique pattern of amnesia that was distinctly different from the pattern associated with medial-temporal trauma. On the other hand, damage to language regions, auditory cortex, or parietal cortex produced impairments of language, auditory imagery, or spatial imagery; however, these impairments were not associated with amnesia. Therefore, a full model of autobiographical memory must consider cognitive processes that are not generally considered 'core processes,' as well as the brain regions upon which these processes depend.







David C. Rubin

Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

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My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.

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