Your most important memories happen early in life

Your most important memories happen early in life

Researchers from the University of New Hampshire found that when older people are asked to recall their most significant memories, most of those events happened before age 25.

“When people look back over their lives and recount their most important memories, most divide their life stories into chapters defined by important moments that are universal for many: a physical move, attending college, a first job, marriage, military experience, and having children,” said study leader Kristina Steiner, in a news release.

For the study, researchers interviewed people between the ages of 59-92 asking them to tell their whole life story in just 30 minutes. A week later, the participants were told to divide their lives into distinct chapters.

The responses revealed what researchers call a “reminiscence bump,” that particularly focused on events that happened between ages 17 and 24.

A reminiscence bump is a time when many memories, positive and negative, expected and unexpected, are recalled, study leaders said.

Researchers say it’s the first study of its kind to use “free-flowing life stories,” as sources for information, but still aren’t sure why adults don’t recollect more events from middle age and beyond.

“Many studies have consistently found that when adults are asked to think about their lives and report memories, remembered events occurring between the ages of 15 to 30 are over-represented,” Steiner said. “What is it about the ages of 15 to 30 that make them so much more memorable?”

Steiner said the results may help therapists make better progress with their patients.

Related Posts

Comments

2 Comments

  1. I do not have any sort of psychological credentials, but it would seem that people remember more from their younger years because these years tend to contain more milestones and marked change. You may change a job or loose a loved one when you’re older, but when you’re younger, new things happen often, creating more memories (not necessarily more memorable experiences).

  2. Lynn Hutley

    I would agree with you, Danielle. Our goals and milestones are much more defined in that time frame. Plus, those memories and experience may lay a foundation for you experience in the years to come.

About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.