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Title: Emotional memory in people with Korsakoff's syndrome
Author: Shah, Sayra
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1999
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People with organic amnesia can show intact performance on implicit tests of memory despite profoundly impaired performance on explicit tests. There is some recent preliminary evidence suggesting that amnesics may also have a degree of preserved memory function for emotionally valent material as compared with their impaired function for neutral material. The study reported in this thesis aimed to explore whether people with Korsakoff syndrome remembered emotionally valent information more than neutral information. It also aimed to determine whether emotional / neutral differences depended on how memory was assessed. The performance of 6 Korsakoff subjects was compared with that of 12 age-matched controls on four main memory tasks. All participants were assessed at two time points. Results suggested that the superiority of emotional memory depended on how memory was assessed. On tasks requiring explicit memory for novel information emotional material enhanced the performance of control participants, but not Korsakoff participants. The exception to this was enhanced performance on cued recall of positive information in the Korsakoff group (as also seen in the control group). However on a test of autobiographical memory assessing memories in response to positive, negative and neutral cuewords, although the Korsakoff group produced less specific memories overall than the control group, scores were very similar between the two groups in response to negative cuewords. This was interpreted as a superiority of memory for negative autobiographical experiences in the Korsakoff group. When memory was tested in an implicit priming task, the performance of the Korsakoff group and the control group did not differ and the effect of the emotional material was the same for both groups. These findings are discussed in the context of the literature on emotional memory in both amnesic and normal subjects. Areas for further research are suggested and the possible clinical implications of the results are drawn out.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available