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Older adults report moderately more detailed autobiographical memories

Show simple item record Gardner, Robert, S Mainetti, Matteo Ascoli, Giorgio, A 2015-09-11T12:53:28Z 2015-09-11T12:53:28Z 2015-05-19
dc.identifier.citation Gardner RS, Mainetti M and Ascoli GA (2015) Older adults report moderately more detailed autobiographical memories. Front. Psychol. 6:631. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00631 en_US
dc.description.abstract Autobiographical memory (AM) is an essential component of the human mind. Although the amount and types of subjective detail (content) that compose AMs constitute important dimensions of recall, age-related changes in memory content are not well characterized. Previously, we introduced the Cue-Recalled Autobiographical Memory test (CRAM; see, an instrument that collects subjective reports of AM content, and applied it to college-aged subjects. CRAM elicits AMs using naturalistic word-cues. Subsequently, subjects date each cued AM to a life period and count the number of remembered details from specified categories (features), e.g., temporal detail, spatial detail, persons, objects, and emotions. The current work applies CRAM to a broad range of individuals (18–78 years old) to quantify the effects of age on AM content. Subject age showed a moderately positive effect on AM content: older compared with younger adults reported ∼16% more details (∼25 vs. ∼21 in typical AMs). This age-related increase in memory content was similarly observed for remote and recent AMs, although content declined with the age of the event among all subjects. In general, the distribution of details across features was largely consistent among younger and older adults. However, certain types of details, i.e., those related to objects and sequences of events, contributed more to the age effect on content. Altogether, this work identifies a moderate age-related feature-specific alteration in the way life events are subjectively recalled, among an otherwise stable retrieval profile.
dc.description.sponsorship This research was supported in part by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (Award No: FA9550-10-1-0385) and the Office of Naval Research (Award No: 000141010198). Publication of this article was funded in part by the George Mason University Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund. en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher Frontiers Media en_US
dc.rights Attribution 3.0 United States *
dc.rights.uri *
dc.subject autobiographical memory en_US
dc.subject memory content en_US
dc.subject aging en_US
dc.subject forgetting en_US
dc.subject recollection en_US
dc.subject episodic memory en_US
dc.subject word-cue technique en_US
dc.title Older adults report moderately more detailed autobiographical memories en_US
dc.type Article en_US

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