The role of working memory and verbal fluency in autobiographical memory in early Alzheimer’s disease and matched controls

Benjamin, Maxwell J., Cifelli, A., Garrard, P., Caine, D. and Jones, F. W. (2015) The role of working memory and verbal fluency in autobiographical memory in early Alzheimer’s disease and matched controls. Neuropsychologia, 78. pp. 115-121. ISSN 0028-3932.


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Retrieval of autobiographical memories (AMs) is important for “sense of self”. Previous research and theoretical accounts suggest that working memory (WM) and semantic and phonemic fluency abilities facilitate the hierarchical search for, and reliving of past, personal events in the mind’s eye. However, there remains a lack of consensus as to the nature of the relationships between these cognitive functions and the truly episodic aspects of AM. The present study therefore aimed to explore the associations between these variables in a sample with a wide range of cognitive abilities. The study incorporated a between-groups component, and a correlational component with multiple regression. Participants with Alzheimer’s disease (n = 10) and matched healthy controls (n = 10) were assessed on measures of semantic and episodic AM search and retrieval, auditory and spatial WM, and semantic and phonemic fluency. The AD group produced less episodic AM content compared to controls. Semantic fluency predicted episodic AM retrieval independent of age effects but there were no significant relationships between measures of phonemic fluency, WM and episodic AM. The results suggest that the ability to maintain hierarchical search of the semantic knowledge-base is important for truly episodic reliving, and interventions for people with AM impairment might therefore benefit from incorporating structured, individualised external memory-aids to facilitate AM search and retrieval.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology > QP0351 Neurophysiology and neuropsychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Dr Fergal W. Jones
Date Deposited: 23 Oct 2015 13:22
Last Modified: 25 Jan 2016 17:43

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00