Odysse Davis: Do episodic & semantic autobiographical memory contribute to self-continuity? Evidence of preserved narrative identity over time in episodic amnesia
To better understand how episodic and semantic autobiographical memory (AM) contribute to one’s sense of self over time, this study examined self-continuity in three amnesic males (DG, aged 54 years; BL, 58 years; DA, 68 years) with varying degrees of episodic AM impairment and relatively preserved semantic AM. Amnesic patients were compared to a group of male healthy controls (N=19, Mage = 63.26, SDage = 6.70). We measured autobiographical reasoning using the Life Story Interview and diachronic unity (sense of self-persistence over time) using the Self-Continuity Interview. All responses were analysed using standard scoring protocols and Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) Narrative Arc analyses. Surprisingly, the cases’ autobiographical reasoning and diachronic unity did not differ significantly from those of controls. However, LIWC analyses revealed some textual differences in two of the three cases’ narratives: DG’s life story demonstrated lower staging (text used to set up the story) and plot progression (text relating to people and their actions) narrativity scores, while DA’s life story showed a lower staging narrativity score compared to controls’ life stories. Crucially, these findings demonstrate self-continuity can still persist albeit with changes to the narrative arc, despite dense episodic AM impairments, likely supported by semantic AM.
This poster was uploaded for the SGS Research Showcase 2023.