Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Brain activation in highly superior autobiographical memory: The role of the praecuneus in the autobiographical memory retrieval network

Mazzoni, Giuliana; Clark, Andrew; De Bartolo, Adriana; Guerrini, Chiara; Nahouli, Zacharia; Duzzi, Davide; De Marco, Matteo; McGeown, William; Venneri, Annalena


Giuliana Mazzoni

Andrew Clark

Adriana De Bartolo

Zacharia Nahouli

Davide Duzzi

Matteo De Marco

William McGeown

Annalena Venneri


This is the first study to examine functional brain activation in a single case of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM) who shows no sign of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). While previous work has documented the existence of HSAM, information about brain areas involved in this exceptional form of memory for personal events relies on structural and resting state connectivity data, with mixed results so far. In this first task-based functional magnetic resonance Imaging (fMRI) study of a normal individual with HSAM, dates were presented as cues and two phases were assessed during memory retrieval, initial access and later elaboration. Results showed that initial access was very fast, did not activate the hippocampus, and involved activation of predominantly posterior visual areas, including the praecuneus. These areas typically become active during later stages of elaboration of personal memories rather than during initial access. Elaboration involved a balanced bilateral activation of most of the autobiographical network areas, rather than the more typical shifts observed in people without HSAM. Overall, the pattern of brain activations, which rests on repeated observations in a single individual, highlights a strong involvement of the praecuneus and an idiosyncratic initial access to personal memory representations. Implications for the nature of personal memories in HSAM are discussed.


Mazzoni, G., Clark, A., De Bartolo, A., Guerrini, C., Nahouli, Z., Duzzi, D., …Venneri, A. (2019). Brain activation in highly superior autobiographical memory: The role of the praecuneus in the autobiographical memory retrieval network. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior, 120, 588-602.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 16, 2019
Online Publication Date Feb 5, 2019
Publication Date 2019-11
Deposit Date Jan 28, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jan 28, 2021
Journal Cortex
Print ISSN 0010-9452
Electronic ISSN 1973-8102
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 120
Pages 588-602
Keywords Autobiographical memory network; Highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM); Brain imaging; Precuneus
Public URL
Publisher URL
Related Public URLs


You might also like

Downloadable Citations