Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
PsychologyOur news, events & seminars

Involuntary Autobiographical Memories: An Introduction the Unbidden Past Seminar

15:00 - 16:00
17 October 2018
University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Building 44 (Shackleton), Room 1057 (L/T B)

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

Visiting Speaker Seminar on behalf of CRSI

Involuntary autobiographical memories are conscious memories of past events that come to mind spontaneously, with no preceding conscious search, but often in response to distinct situational cues (such as a melody, a taste or a smell triggering a memory). In contrast to the conventional view in psychology that such memories are rare or dysfunctional, more recent evidence shows that they are highly frequent in daily life and mostly positive. Experimental research has demonstrated that their activation is governed by well-known and discernible mechanisms of association. Measures of retrieval time and brain imaging data suggest that they involve less executive processes compared with autobiographical memories retrieved deliberately. They may be viewed as a ‘short-cut’ to the personal past with possible implications for our understanding of autobiographical memory in individuals with impaired or less developed executive functions and in non-human animals.

Speaker information

Professor Dorthe Berntsen, Aarhus University, Denmark. My research deals with autobiographical memory (the ability to remember events from the personal past). I have particularly examined involuntary (spontaneously arising) autobiographical memories, which are memories that appear in the consciousness with no preceding attempts at retrieving them. I have pioneered the scientific study of this phenomenon in cognitive psychology, and examined them in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression, as well as dementia where spontaneous memories of the early part of life can be intact and stimulated with relevant cues. Since 2010 I have headed the Danish National Research Foundation Center on Autobiographical Memory Research (CON AMORE), where we study autobiographical memory from many different angles, including life span development from early childhood to old age,across various mental disorders, and across cultures

Privacy Settings