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Revue de neuropsychologie

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Autobiographical memory in autism: from childhood to adulthood Volume 8, issue 4, Octobre-Novembre-Décembre 2016

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Authors
Normandie Univ, UNICAEN,
PSL Research University, EPHE,
INSERM, U1077,
CHU de Caen, Neuropsychologie et Imagerie de la mémoire humaine,
2, rue des Rochambelles,
14032 Caen cedex,
France
* Correspondance

Autobiographical memory implicates many cognitive functions including executive functions, language, social cognition, self-consciousness, perceptual and emotional processes. Autobiographical memory can be separated into two components: episodic memories and personal semantic knowledge both closely related to the self. For these reasons, the development of autobiographical memory is very progressive from childhood to adulthood. In autism, the episodic component is impaired in both adults and children while the semantic one is affected only in children with an increased forgetting of personal semantic knowledge that suggests abnormal semantisation. These abnormalities may result from a lack of reactivation and consolidation associated with language difficulties, impoverished social interactions and delayed self-development. This developmental delay may be reduced in adulthood improving the production of semantic autobiographical knowledge. We last discuss the origins of these impairments in relation with the main cognitive theories of autism and develop the question of the rule of perceptual, cognitive and social specificities on the construction of the self.