Disorganized trauma memory seems to play an important role in the pathogenesis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it is unclear whether memory organization of nonautobiographical material (i.e., sequence memory) is also impaired in PTSD. A novel task designed to assess nonautobiographical memory for content and order information was administered to trauma survivors with (n = 26) and without PTSD (n = 55) as well as to nontraumatized healthy adults (n = 30). In addition, traumatized participants were asked to give a detailed narrative of the traumatic event and an unpleasant autobiographical event. Transcripts of both types of narratives were analyzed with regard to disorganization. Results indicated that trauma memories were more disorganized than memories of an unpleasant event in the PTSD group in comparison with the non-PTSD group. However, no differences were found for memory organization of nonautobiographical material among trauma survivors with and without PTSD and nontraumatized controls. With regard to memory accuracy of nonautobiographical material, group differences were more strongly associated with trauma exposure than with PTSD.
- narrative memory
- sequence memory