Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory (SDAM)

Brian Levine explores the relationship between autobiographical memory and visual imagery in this presentation from the 2021 Extreme Imagination Conference.
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What is SDAM? With Brian Levine

Do you remember all the details of your last vacation? For some people, even the big events in their life are just a blur. This is called Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory (SDAM).

Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory (SDAM) is a condition in which healthy people report a failure to re-experience or recollect specific events from their past, although their memory for factual information about themselves and the world is intact. People with SDAM know basic facts about their past, but they can’t recall rich, vivid details of events. For example, you may know you went on a vacation but lack a richly detailed and vivid recollection of any events from that trip.

In this 2021 Extreme Imagination Conference and Exhibition presentation, Brian Levine explores how some people can still lead a normal life despite their lack of clear memories. Levine investigates if this type of memory condition is common and related to the inability to imagine things visually (aphantasia).

About the Extreme Imagination Conference

Extreme Imagination conference and exhibition is a gathering of the world’s foremost thinkers, scientists and creatives challenging long-held beliefs about what it means to imagine and create. The first event was brought to life by Dr. Adam Zeman and the Eye’s Mind team at the University of Exeter in 2019. In 2021, the second conference was hosted virtually by the Aphantasia Network.

About the Researcher

Brian Levine obtained his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of South Florida. He completed fellowships in clinical neuropsychology at McLean Hospital in Boston and cognitive neuroscience at the Rotman Research Institute. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed scientific articles and chapters on memory, frontal lobe function, traumatic brain injury, aging, dementia, and rehabilitation, as well as Mind and the Frontal Lobes: Cognition, Behavior, and Brain Imaging (2012, Oxford University Press) and Goal Management Training® intervention for executive deficits (with Ian Robertson and Tom Manly). He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and Association for Psychological Science and a recipient of the 2015 International Neuropsychological Society’s Benton award for mid-career research achievement. His research has been funded by federal agencies (CIHR, NIH) continuously for the past 20 years. Dr. Levine, a board-certified neuropsychologist, is clinically active, providing expert opinions in cases involving brain injury, dementia, and psychiatric disorders.

Palombo, D. J., Alain, C., Söderlund, H., Khuu, W., & Levine, B. (2015). Severely deficient autobiographical memory (SDAM) in healthy adults: A new mnemonic syndrome. Neuropsychologia, 72, 105–118. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.04.012
Palombo, D. J., Williams, L. J., Abdi, H., & Levine, B. (2013). The survey of autobiographical memory (SAM): a novel measure of trait mnemonics in everyday life. Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior, 49(6), 1526–1540. doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2012.08.023