Preserving narrative identity for dementia patients: Embodiment, active environments, and distributed memory

Richard Heersmink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


One goal of this paper is to argue that autobiographical memories are extended and distributed across embodied brains and environmental resources. This is important because such distributed memories play a constitutive role in our narrative identity. So, some of the building blocks of our narrative identity are not brain-bound but extended and distributed. Recognising the distributed nature of memory and narrative identity, invites us to find treatments and strategies focusing on the environment in which dementia patients are situated. A second goal of this paper is to suggest various of such strategies, including lifelogging technologies such as SenseCams, life story books, multimedia biographies, memory boxes, ambient intelligence systems, and virtual reality applications. Such technologies allow dementia patients to remember their personal past in a way that wouldn’t be possible by merely relying on their biological memory, in that way aiding in preserving their narrative identity and positively contributing to their sense of well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2022

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