Individual differences and correlates of highly superior autobiographical memory

Lawrence Patihis*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM) is a recently identified ability that has been difficult to explain with existing memory science. The present study measured HSAM participants’ and age/gender-matched controls’ on a number of behavioural measures to test three main hypotheses: imaginative absorption, emotional arousal, and sleep. HSAM participants were significantly higher than controls on the dispositions absorption and fantasy proneness. These two dispositions also were associated with a measure of HSAM ability within the hyperthymesia participants. The emotional-arousal hypothesis yielded only weak support. The sleep hypothesis was not supported in terms of quantity, but sleep quality may be a small factor worthy of further research. Other individual differences are also documented using a predominantly exploratory analysis. Speculative pathways describing how the tendencies to absorb and fantasise could lead to enhanced autobiographical memory are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)961-978
Number of pages18
Issue number7
Early online date28 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2016


  • Absorption
  • Autobiographical memory
  • Emotional arousal
  • Fantasy proneness
  • HSAM
  • Hyperthymesia
  • Sleep


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