Kalbe, Elke; Brand, Matthias; Thiel, A.; Kessler, Josef; Markowitsch, Hans J.:

Neuropsychological and neural correlates of autobiographical deficits in a mother who killed her children

In: Neurocase: The Neural Basis of Cognition, Jg. 14 (2008) ; Nr. 1, S. 15-28
ISSN: 1465-3656, 1355-4794
Zeitschriftenaufsatz / Fach: Angewandte Kognitionswissenschaften
Fakultät für Ingenieurwissenschaften » Informatik und Angewandte Kognitionswissenschaft
We report a case of a delusional patient who had killed two of her children in an attempted ‘extended suicide’. She was convinced of a genetic defect that caused autobiographical memory and emotional deficits and made life ‘senseless’. Neuropsychological tests revealed dysfunctions in remembering emotional details of personal episodes and theory of mind. Water positron emission tomography (15O) with a paradigm used in a former study by Fink et al. (1996) with healthy controls elicited abnormal activations during autobiographical memory retrieval characterised by a lack of prefrontal and limbic activity. We conclude that these imaging findings reflect neural correlates of the self-reported and objectified autobiographical dysfunctions. Furthermore, they indicate that beliefs or prejudices may have a major impact on the brain's processing of the personal past.