Source memory in the real world: A neuropsychological study of flashbulb memory

Patrick S.R. Davidson, Shaun P. Cook, Elizabeth L. Glisky, Mieke Verfaellie, Steven Z. Rapcsak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A flashbulb memory (FM) is a vivid, enduring memory for how one learned about a surprising, shocking event. It thus involves memory for the source of event information, as opposed to memory for the event itself. Which brain regions are involved in FM, however, is uncertain. Although medial temporal lobe/diencephalic (MTL/D) damage impairs content or item memory, frontal lobe (FL) damage has been associated with impaired source memory. One would therefore expect that FM should depend on the FLs, although two recent reports do not support this idea. In the current study, we examined memory for the events of September 11th, and memory for the source of that information, in MTL/D patients, FL patients, and healthy subjects. Only the MTL/D patients were impaired in long-term memory for the event itself, measured after a 6 month retention interval. The FL patients, on the other hand, showed a selective deficit in source memory, although their memory for the target event was unimpaired. MTL/D and FL structures appear to play different roles in memory for flashbulb events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-929
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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