Who Are You? The Study of Personality in Patients With Anterograde Amnesia
Little is known about the role of declarative memory in the ongoing perception of one’s personality. Seven individuals who developed a rare and severe type of anterograde amnesia following damage to their medial temporal lobes were identified from our neurological patient registry. We examined the stability of their personality ratings on the Big Five Inventory over five retest periods and assessed the accuracy of their ratings via analyses of self–caregiver agreement. The patients portrayed a stable sense of self over the course of 1 year. However, their self-ratings differed from those provided by the caregivers. Intriguingly, these discrepancies diminished when caregivers retrospectively rated the patients’ personalities prior to their brain injury, suggesting that patients’ perceptions of themselves were stuck in the past. We interpret our findings to indicate that the ability to form new declarative memories is not required for maintaining a stable sense of self but may be important for updating one’s sense of self over time.