The life span distribution of autobiographical memory in Alzheimer’s disease.

Objective: The literature on the temporal distribution of autobiographical memory in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is characterized by mixed findings concerning the presence of a temporal gradient in the loss of autobiographical memory. Some studies show a gradient, implying better access to more remote autobiographical memories, whereas others do not. These conflicting results likely reflect differences in the test methodologies, accentuating the need for replications and extensions. Method: Forty-five older adults diagnosed with AD (via Mini-Mental State Examination, M = 19.89, SD = 4.05) and a matched sample of 44 healthy older adults were assessed on two different autobiographical memory measures: the Autobiographical Memory Interview (Kopelman, Wilson, & Baddeley, 1990) and the Galton–Crovitz task (word and object cueing) to examine the temporal distribution of personal autobiographical memories across the life span. Results: The impairment of episodic and personal semantic remembering, as indexed by the Autobiographical Memory Interview, was associated with a negative temporal gradient with better preservation of memories from the remote past, relative to the recent one. The results from the word- and object-cueing task replicated the finding that AD is associated with markedly impaired recall of recent events. In addition, both groups showed a peak in the recollection of events from middle childhood and adolescence, consistent with research on the reminiscence bump. Conclusions: Older adults diagnosed with AD demonstrate increased recollection of personal semantic and episodic events from the remote past relative to the recent one. The findings are discussed in relation to prominent models of memory consolidation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)