Autobiographical Memory for Stressful Events, Traumatic Memory and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review

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Pânila Longhi Lorenzzoni, Thiago Loreto Gacia Silva, Mariana Pasquali Poletto, Gustavo Gauer, Christian Haag Kristensen


Stressors and traumatic events may contribute to the development of many psychopathologies, PTSD among them. People with this disorder can present significant cognitive impairments and losses in memory, particularly autobiographical memory (AM).This paper aims to present a systematic review of literature considering changes on autobiographical memory in people exposed to potentially traumatic stressors. Therefore, we performed a computerized search in databases PsycINFO, PubMed, Web of Science and Pilots in March 2012.A total of 29 articles were selected and grouped into three categories: studies comparing Trauma X PTSD, studies comparing PTSD X Trauma X Control and comparison studies according to post-traumatic symptoms. Results demonstrate that people with PTSD presents alterations in a larger number of AM components compared to the cases in which PTSD did not developed. In the same way, subjects never exposed to trauma did not demonstrate significant alterations on  AM when compared to the other groups. The results of this study allowed concluding that changes of some components of the AM are primarily associated with PTSD, but it was not possible to clarify whether such changes are related to the timely development of the disorder, or if they are also observed in traumatic memories even in the absence of disorder.

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autobiographical memory; PTSD; trauma; traumatic memory

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