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Self-defining Memories and their Contribution to the Sense of Self in Alzheimer’s Disease

[ Vol. 17 , Issue. 6 ]


Mohamad EL Haj* and Philippe Allain   Pages 508 - 516 ( 9 )


Aims: Unlike autobiographical memory (i.e., memory for personal information) in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), little is known about Self-Defining Memories (SDM) (i.e., memories of highly significant personal events) in AD.

Methods: The characteristics of self-defining memories in AD were evaluated by analyzing their specificity, emotional valence, and integration, as well as their centrality and contribution to self-continuity. Results demonstrated fewer specific SDM in AD participants than in controls.

Results: No significant differences were observed between AD participants and controls regarding the production of positive or integrated SDM. Furthermore, no significant differences were observed between AD participants and controls regarding the rating of the centrality of SDM and their contribution to self-continuity. These results demonstrate that, although AD participants produce fewer specific SDM than controls, both populations have similar levels of emotional valence, integration, centrality, and selfcontinuity of these memories.

Conclusion: It is concluded that patients with AD, at least those in the mild stages of the disease, can build on significant personal events and experiences (i.e., SDM) to reflect on how these events have changed the way they see themselves.


Alzheimer's disease, autobiographical memory, memory, self, self-continuity, self-defining memories.


Nantes Universite, Univ Angers, Laboratoire de Psychologie des Pays de la Loire (LPPL - EA 4638), F-44000 Nantes, Centre National de Reference pour les Maladies Neurogenetiques de l’Adulte, Departement de Neurologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire d’Angers, Angers

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