Detailed recollection of remote autobiographical memory after damage to the medial temporal lobe

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Feb 19;105(7):2676-80. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0712155105. Epub 2008 Feb 5.


Previous findings of intact remote autobiographical memory in patients with medial temporal lobe damage have been questioned on the grounds that the narrative recollections were impoverished and fact-like and that the methods were not sufficiently sensitive to detect an impairment. We adopted a newer method, the Autobiographical Interview [Levine B, Svoboda E, Hay JF, Winocur G, Moscovitch M (2002) Psychol Aging 17:677-689], which uses extensive probing to elicit an average of 50 or more details per memory (in contrast to the approximately 20 details per memory elicited with previous methods). We found that autobiographical recollection was impaired in patients with medial temporal lobe damage when memories were drawn from the recent past but fully intact when memories were drawn from the remote past. Impaired remote autobiographical memory, which has sometimes been reported with this and other tests, is likely caused by significant damage outside the medial temporal lobe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amnesia / pathology
  • Autobiographies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Temporal Lobe / injuries*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*
  • Time Factors