About Center on Autobiographical Memory Research - CON AMORE

In the spring of 2009, the Danish National Research Foundation and Aarhus University signed a contract for a Center of Excellence for research on autobiographical memory, which opened in January 2010.

Our goal is to develop a center which tries to integrate many different aspects of autobiographical memory research, including basic autobiographical memory research with adults, development of autobiographical memory from infancy to young adulthood and dysfunctional aspects of autobiographical memory, such as in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and amnesia. CON AMORE will meet a growing international need for developing and integrating theoretical and empirical research on autobiographical memory.

Professor Dorthe Berntsen (center leader), Professor Peter Krøjgaard and Professor Ocke-Schwen Bohn (all senior faculty at Aarhus University) are coremembers of CON AMORE. The center also involves Professor David C. Rubin (Duke University) who participates on a part time basis. In addition, a number of PhD students and Postdocs will take part in building an interesting and stimulating environment for autobiographical memory research.

CON AMORE is expected to attract outstanding junior and senior researchers from many parts of the world for shorter and longer visits.

The Danish National Research Foundation has supported CON AMORE with 42 million DKK from 2010-2014, and with 42 million DKK from 2015-2019.

*) In Danish academia, CON AMORE means something you do out of sheer interest and fascination with the topic.

What is autobiographical memory?
Autobiographical memory is the ability to remember events from the personal past and imagine possible events in the personal future. This ability is crucial for a sense of identity, continuity and direction in life. Our aim is to study autobiographical memory from a biological to a cultural level, from infants to old people, in healthy people as well as in clinical disorders.

Autobiographical memory can be defined as a neurocognitive (brain/mind) system for consciously recollecting the personal past. This ability is closely related to the ability of imagining possible events in the personal future. People who have difficulties remembering their personal past also have difficulties imagining their personal future.

Autobiographical memory is at the heart of what defines an individual as a person with obligations, roles and commitments in a given society. Most psychiatric disorders, such as depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), phobia, borderline personality disorder, and schizophrenia, are associated with some severe disturbances of autobiographical memory.

Amongst our key projects are:

  • The examination of autobiographical memory both when it is voluntary (deliberate) and involuntary – that is, when it takes place with no executive control.
  • The study of cultural-cognitive structures in the organization of subjective time.
  • The study of the development of autobiographical memory in infancy and childhood, in relation to language development and cultural schemata for time.
  • The study of dysfunctional effects of autobiographical memory in prominent clinical disorders, notably involuntary remembering of stressful events in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and impaired autobiographical memory in traumatic brain injury.