Psychogenic amnesia - A malady of the constricted self
Autobiographical–episodic memory is the conjunction of subjective time, autonoetic consciousness and the experiencing self. Understanding the neural correlates of autobiographical–episodic memory might therefore be essential for shedding light on the neurobiology underlying the experience of being an autonoetic self. In this contribution we illustrate the intimate relationship between autobiographical–episodic memory and self by reviewing the clinical and neuropsychological features and brain functional imaging correlates of psychogenic amnesia – a condition that is usually characterized by severely impaired retrograde memory functioning, in absence of structural brain damage as detected by standard imaging. We demonstrate that in this disorder the autobiographical–episodic memory deficits do not exist in isolation, but occur with impairments of the autonoetic self-consciousness, emotional processing, and theory of mind or executive functions. Furthermore functional and metabolic brain alterations involving regions that are agreed upon to exert crucial roles in memory processes were frequently found to accompany the psychogenic memory “loss”.
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