Autobiographical memory is split into two strands. The first is semantic memory – which stores and recalls personal details such as our names. The second is called episodic memory – which is responsible for remembering events from our personal history.
This study is one of very few to explore this type of memory in children with TLE. The study was conducted at the University of Sydney’s School of Psychology. There, scientists used a test called the Children’s Autobiographical Interview on children both with and without a diagnosis of TLE. They then compared the results.
Both sets of children showed similar abilities in recalling personal facts – showing that semantic memory is not impaired by TLE. However, children with TLE scored much lower than those without when scientists looked at episodic memory. Children with TLE found it much harder to remember details of personal events. However, they scored much better after they were offered memory prompts by the interviewer.
Interestingly, scientists noticed in the group without TLE that the ability to recall personal events increased significantly between the ages of six and 16 years. However, it did not increase at all in children with TLE.
The full research was published in an online edition of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society on 19 September.