Individual Differences in Autobiographical Memory

Trends Cogn Sci. 2018 Jul;22(7):583-597. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2018.04.007. Epub 2018 May 25.


Although humans have a remarkable capacity to recall a wealth of detail from the past, there are marked interindividual differences in the quantity and quality of our mnemonic experiences. Such differences in autobiographical memory may appear self-evident, yet there has been little research on this topic. In this review, we synthesize an emerging body of research regarding individual differences in autobiographical memory. We focus on two syndromes that fall at the extremes of the 'remembering' dimension: highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM) and severely deficient autobiographical memory (SDAM). We also discuss findings from research on less extreme individual differences in autobiographical memory. This avenue of research is pivotal for a full description of the behavioral and neural substrates of autobiographical memory.

Keywords: Episodic memory; highly superior autobiographical memory; severely deficient autobiographical memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology
  • Humans
  • Individuality*
  • Memory, Episodic*

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