Imagining the present: Amnesia may impair descriptions of the present as well as of the future and the past

Adam Z J Zeman, Nicoletta Beschin, Michaela Dewar, Sergio Della Sala

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    22 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Recent evidence suggests that in some patients with amnesia the capacity to imagine the future is impaired in parallel with the capacity to remember the past. This paper asks whether descriptions of the present may be similarly affected. We recruited 7 patients with amnesic syndromes of varying aetiologies who were matched for age, sex and education with 7 control participants. Patients showed no deficits on subjective measures of visual imagery. They were impaired by comparison with controls on measures of imagination and future thinking. However there was an even more marked impairment on tasks requiring them to give descriptions of their current experience. Potential explanations include effects of amnesia on narrative construction or on the texture of experience itself, and the confounding influence of cognitive impairments outside the memory domain. We conclude that tasks requiring descriptions of current experience provide a valuable control condition in studies examining the relationship between memory and imagination.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)637-645
    Number of pages9
    JournalCortex
    Volume49
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

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