Environmental influences on autobiographical memory. The mnestic block syndrome. Umwelteinfluesse auf das autobiografische Gedaechtnis. Das mnestische Blockadesyndrom.
Reviews research on autobiographical episodic memory and the influence of environmental factors such as stress, with a particular focus on mnestic-block syndrome. 1st, the crucial brain structures involved in autobiographical episodic memory are summarized as well as the processes involved in building episodic memory. The prefrontal cortex and limbic regions are identified as key structures. Then, the main environmental factors influencing autobiographical episodic memory are reviewed. The negative influence of stress on memory is discussed and the case of posttraumatic stress disorder is given as an example. It is concluded that the ability to remember the past can be severely impaired by stress and psychogenic factors. Next, another example is discussed in detail: the mnestic block syndrome, a retrograde amnesia without structural brain damage. Its clinical features and neuropsychological profile are described, and the critical role of stressful or traumatic events in such amnesia is pointed out. Finally, findings from neuroimaging studies in patients with the syndrome are discussed, which found functional alterations of episodic-memory-related brain circuits.
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