This article is part of the Research Topic Examining the role of memory in social cognition

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 04 December 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00531

Memory as social glue: close interpersonal relationships in amnesic patients

  • 1School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • 2Bruyère Research Institute, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada
  • 3Centre for Stroke Recovery, Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 4Department of Psychology, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 5Department of Psychology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
  • 6Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest, Toronto, ON, Canada

Memory may be crucial for establishing and/or maintaining social bonds. Using the National Social life, Health, and Aging Project questionnaire, we examined close interpersonal relationships in three amnesic people: K.C. and D.A. (who are adult-onset cases) and H.C. (who has developmental amnesia). All three patients were less involved than demographically matched controls with neighbors and religious and community groups. A higher-than-normal percentage of the adult-onset (K.C. and D.A.) cases’ close relationships were with family members, and they had made few new close friends in the decades since the onset of their amnesia. On the other hand, the patient with developmental amnesia (H.C.) had forged a couple of close relationships, including one with her fiancé. Social networks appear to be winnowed, but not obliterated, by amnesia. The obvious explanation for the patients’ reduced social functioning stems from their memory impairment, but we discuss other potentially important factors for future study.

Keywords: amnesia, memory, hippocampus, medial temporal lobe, friendship, social networks

Citation: Davidson PSR, Drouin H, Kwan D, Moscovitch M and Rosenbaum RS (2012) Memory as social glue: close interpersonal relationships in amnesic patients. Front. Psychology 3:531. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00531

Received: 28 August 2012; Accepted: 09 November 2012;
Published online: 04 December 2012.

Edited by:

R. Nathan Spreng, Cornell University, USA

Reviewed by:

Melissa Duff, University of Iowa, USA
Mieke Verfaellie, VA Boston Healthcare System, USA

Copyright: © 2012 Davidson, Drouin, Kwan, Moscovitch and Rosenbaum. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Patrick S. R. Davidson, School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, 136 Jean-Jacques Lussier Private, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1N 6N5. e-mail: patrick.davidson@uottawa.ca

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