The Function of Autobiographical Memory

Topics: Hippocampus, Amnesia, Episodic memory Pages: 4 (419 words) Published: November 17, 2012

Outlines: 1. Definition, characteristics and function of autobiographical memory 2. Methods of studying autobiographical memory
3. Levels of autobiographical memory
4. Conway’s theory
5. Autobiographical memory as life narrative
6. Autobiographical memory over time (infantile amnesia; reminiscence bump)

Definition of Autobiographical Memories
• Memories of ourselves and our relationships
• Episodic and semantic
• Unique
• One’s life narrative
• Interpretive knowledge

Characteristics of Autobiographical Memories
• Constructive & integrative
• General and specific information
• General before specific information
• Retrieval rate
• More complex

The Function of Autobiographical Memories
Hyman and Faries (1992) & Bluck et al.’s (2005) TALE questionnaire Williams, Conway, and Cohen (2008) proposed four functions of AM: – Directive
– Social
– Self-representational
– Helping to cope with adversity

Studying Autobiographical Memories
• Difficult to study
• Many studies of autobiographical memory make tenuous assumptions … • Methods of study:
• Classic diary method
• Diary method with random sampling
• Memory probe method

Structure of Autobiographical Memory
Levels of Autobiographical Memory:
• Event-specific knowledge
• General events
• Lifetime periods

Levels of Autobiographical Memory
1. Event specific memories
• Most closely aligned with episodic memory
• Individual experiences
• Perceptual and contextual detail
• Most lost
2. General events
• Two types
– Sequence of events
– Repeated events of a kind
– Cover general time period
• Require integrative and interpretive processing
3. Lifetime periods
• Several general...
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