The Role of Autobiographical Support in Semantic Memory Retrieval Evidence from Semantic Dementia

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Description: We examined autobiographical support in semantic memory retrieval in patients with semantic dementia (SD), a neurological disorder marked by selective and progressive loss of semantic memory (i.e., memory for general world knowledge). Six SD patients and 16 healthy controls participated in a category fluency task in which they generated exemplars for nine autobiographical (e.g., kitchen utensils) and nine nonautobiographical categories (e.g., insects), reflecting the general strategies subjects utilized in a pilot study. The mean number of exemplars generated in each category was calculated. Based on these category assignments, we did not find an autobiographical benefit for either SD patients or controls. In another analysis, based on participant's self-reported strategy (i.e., autobiographical vs. non-autobiographical), controls experienced a statistically significant autobiographical benefit; moreover, a numerical difference showing the same pattern was observed in SD patients. These data suggest autobiographical information enhances semantic retrieval when the measure of retrieval strategy reflects individual differences.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work