Objective: The loss of autobiographical memories (ABM) is a pervasive feature of neurodegenerative diseases. Studies to date have not investigated ABM retrieval in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a multisystem disorder that may be associated with cognitive dysfunction and dementia.
Method: The integrity of autobiographical memory was evaluated in 22 ALS patients compared with 28 age-matched controls using the Autobiographical Interview (AI), a semistructured interview assessing autobiographical events from discrete time periods across the life span.
Results: ABM retrieval was preserved in ALS and remained rich in detail for personal events in recent (last 12-months) and remote (teenage years) time epochs. ABM retrieval was positively correlated with months since ALS symptom onset, with a greater number of contextual details being recalled as ALS progressed. A shift in how ABMs were perceived in ALS patients became apparent, with more recurrent reflection of recent life, which was also weighted with greater personal importance.
Conclusion: The preservation of ABM in ALS has clinical implications for the use of life review as a therapeutic tool in a multidisciplinary care setting.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Autobiographical memory